Swansea Valley husband sees wife once in past year due to visa changes
A SWANSEA Valley husband who has only seen his wife once in the past year has attacked “unjust” changes to visa rules.
David Hook said due to changes he is not able to have his Canadian wife Dee, of six years, live with him.
The UK government insists that someone must earn at least £18,600 a year before they are eligible to bring their partner into the country.
But Mr Hook from Pontardawe earns the minimum wage as a security officer and can’t meet the new target.
The High Court has urged the Home Office to reduce the threshold to about £13,000 a year but the government is appealing against the move.
Mr Hook and his wife Dee, 42, are separated by the Atlantic Ocean and say the wage target unfairly victimises low paid workers.
Mr Hook, 45, said: “I was working as a construction labourer on the minimum wage.
“You’re not going to make the minimum income a year with that kind of job.
“Now I’m working in security and again most of that is minimum wage.
“The most I’ve ever earned is about £14,000 a year — and that was working around 70 hours a week.”
Mr Hook said he has only seen his wife once in the last year.
He said: “Anger’s the only thing that's getting me through this.
“If I stop being angry, I cry.”
The new rules brought in by the UK government apply to non-EU citizens like Mrs Hook.
But the legality of the new system has been challenged in the courts and as a result all spouse visa applications have been frozen.
A ruling in July said that while the minimum earning threshold was not unlawful, it was “onerous” and “unjustified”.
The Migration Observatory, based at Oxford University, said that 51 per cent of working people in Wales do not earn enough to meet the new requirements.
And official government statistics estimate that the average income of households in Wales in 2010 was £18,000 — again under the threshold.
Mr and Mrs Hook are hoping to find a way around the regulations, using EU legislation.
If Mr Hook can find work in another EU country, such as the Republic of Ireland, for three months, his wife will legally be able to join him there.
Under freedom of movement laws, the couple could then move back to the UK.
But Mr Hook said it was doubtful they would ever return.
He said: “I think we are probably going to move to another country and we are probably going to stay there.
“Based on the way this country has treated my family, I hold no loyalty to it anymore.”
The UK Border Agency said its decision not to allow Mrs Hook into the country as a visitor was on the basis of that previous application for a visa as a spouse.
A spokesman said: “In light of this application, and following further enquiries, our officers were not satisfied she would leave the UK after a short visit as claimed.
“If foreign nationals from outside the EU intend to live or work in the UK they must secure the correct visa before travelling here.”