When Muhammed married his British wife, they never thought they’d still live millions of miles away from each other. Applying for a UK settlement Visa was harder than they planned.
”If I was told in 2013 that I’d face this much difficulties in joining my wife in the UK I’ll have probably laughed it off. The journey from Africa to Europe at large isn’t always easy not to mention the UK”. – Muhammed
It’s like they don’t want to hear the word ”Africa” when it comes to issuing visa’s, the hardship of meeting all the requirements and arranging all your documents together is rigorous enough not to mention how many months you have to wait to know your fate. It’s a completely different thing entirely to meet all the requirement for obtaining a visa successfully. Thousands of couples live in the limbo of denial and possible confiscation of their passport, future denial to remain in the UK and their right to live and work getting stripped off.
This visa category requires a lot of prayers, with luck by your side, you might circumvent through it. I could remember when I was undergoing a tuberculosis test at the IOM office, I was sitting next to these couples who’s been through what I’m about to do but were refuted on the basis of not using the recognised or recommended tuberculosis hospital, just like myself, his wife was British, I was mumbling about the long wait just to have a test and the wife said to me, ”we’ve been through this stage but we were denied because we used a different tuberculosis agency from the recommended one and we were denied, over £3,500 we invested in this is gone. We have to repay these fees, so please never make the mistake we made”. I felt how disappointed they were and I just couldn’t help but to say sorry to her for losing so much money in the manner they did and I stayed quiet.
I quickly became friends with them and her husband told me how tired he was, he showed me the letter he received from the denial and we had a little bit of conversation. When I met them it was in May, and he explained that he submitted the first application that was denied in February but was denied in May, he resubmitted in May but up till this very moment he hasn’t got any reply from the home office. They gave him a timeline for a response but all of that is far exceeded.
The bureaucratic measure is what puts a lot of couples in limbo, in July 2012 the Home Office introduced the minimum income requirement of a sponsorship visa by a spouse. The rule explained that for a none-EU national married to a British citizen to be considered to live with his or her British spouse, the British sponsor must be earning a minimum of £18,600 per annum. You might be able to meet this threshold but that isn’t an automatic ticket to your consideration, Lots of couples meet this requirement but were still denied.
I met my wife in September 2013, I was still in the Uni then and we were the best of friends, believe me when I say it wasn’t so easy to be her best friend, we had our issues in between and I could remember then that she was just coming out from a horrible relationship, so it wasn’t entirely easy for her but she had me and I was there for her through thick and thin.
By the end of 2014, we knew we loved each other so we took our time to build something special. We’re special and our relationship means everything to me, we both wanted that special relationship where we’d understand each other perfectly so we decided what was best for us was to take things slow and by the beginning of 2017 I proposed to her and she said a YES.
During that year, we planned on getting married in Dubai, going to Dubai was my idea but it didn’t happen because I was scammed about a £1,000 by some rogue travel agency in Nigeria. We decided it’s best we bring her here and by June 2018 we accomplished that, we got married at the ikorodu registry and our reception followed at Presken hotel in Ikeja.
Before she came to Nigeria, we made plans together starting from when I met her to keep all documents intact for future use. All the gift we exchanged with each other, all the birthday presents and twining gadget we shared all the receipts we’re kept, not forgetting the DHL receipts and all of that, we kept them all. I could remember one night before coming down to Nigeria she told me she wanted a joint account, so I arranged for all of that before coming to Nigeria, we have a joint pounds, euro and dollar account and we saved some money in them.
We weren’t affected by the minimum threshold, we earn much more than that combine together, so we started working towards having all the other document needed, that took a lot of time and efforts too, you don’t get to gather all this document in one month, it takes several months to have them all. But in the end, we were able to have them all.
On her return back to the UK, she found out that something wasn’t just right with her job anymore, she told me she isn’t happy with her job. Repeatedly, she was bullied by her employer’s little son so we had to resign. The little boy felt sorry for bullying her but it was too late, we quitted and left for Guernsey where she worked with this racist businessman.
We knew we wanted to be together so we’re always having that in mind with everything we’ve done. When she signed her employment contract in Guernsey, it was stated in it that she could have her husband with her on request, so after some couple of months, I made her try, and the outcome was a demand for resignation. She told the businessman I was a Nigerian and right immediately he demanded her resignation.
We resigned and flew back to Oxford, It took us one month to find the right job, but in the end I was the one who got her the job, staying in Nigeria didn’t stop me from speaking to different employment agencies and in the end we were rewarded with a befitting job, not just that. I was paid a jaw-dropping £250 for referring her for the job, don’t forget I achieved that living in Nigeria.
By the end of 2018, her British passport was already changed to my name by our lawyer in London, a month after that, we had a meeting with the same lawyer on what’s best for us because I wanted to come to the UK as a tourist at first but he advised against that, ”as a spouse of a British citizen, once you’re denied as a tourist, it’ll be hard for you to come to the UK on other visa categories” because lots of people engage in submitting false documentation and once that’s detected, you’ll be given a 10 years straight ban by the Home Office. So we heed to his advice and we went straight to the dependent visa.
To get the procedure completed, we paid $1,250 for the visa application, £1,000 for the NHS fee, £1,300 for consultancy from our lawyer, over £600 in arranging and sending document from Lagos to the UK and all of that.
In the end, the money invested in processing the application was over 230% much more expensive than my wedding and what we spent to bring my wife down to Nigeria.
Two months into my submissions, we had a joint interview, we were asked the same questions to see if there would be any discrepancies but we fought for our case and another two months on, nothing has been heard from the Home Office.
A couple of days ago I spoke to the couple I met at IOM office bad they explained the due date set by the Home Office was long overdue but they are still waiting. Nine months of waiting for them and 5 months of waiting for us we’re all still waiting to know what our fate is.