A Nasty Surprise! – Immigration Heart-ache (part 1)

By now you may be well versed in my situation in India, but for those new readers who have only just joined us here is a quick summary:

I moved to India to work as a sound engineer bringing with me my beautiful baby daughter. During this time I had many adventures and met some colourful characters, faced all sorts of challenges, many to do with being a single mother. My daughter went to a great international school and my long-term Indian boyfriend moved in and all was bliss until I quit my job for oh-so-many-reasons. I then spent a few weeks trying my luck as a voice-over actress and generally enjoying exploring Mumbai, which brings us up to round about now….

My other half had found himself also without work and one day we made the big old decision that we would try our luck in the UK.
I was half-excited (Friends! Family! No language barrier at work! Five day week thus time to spend with daughter! Better pay!).
I was also mortified at the prospect (Crappy grey weather! Expensive living! All the silly social politics of my old social scene! Ex-boyfriends! Just England!).

We decided to get married – for love of course, but it would certainly help with our immigration case. I had previously glanced over the UK immigration rules and at first look it appeared my mother would have to sponsor my partner until we found our feet, but she was happy enough to do this.
In celebration we planned one last family holiday to Goa.
Then the evening before we got our train to Goa, a bombshell hit.

I looked by chance on the immigration website – it had all changed! I realised that actually I’d got it wrong- my mother couldn’t sponsor my partner – only I could! To be able to do this I had to have been working in a full time UK job for at least six months earning at least £18500 a year. I was a self (un)employed sound engineer who had been working in India!

Now I was faced with returning to England alone with the baby, finding a house and job (that paid enough) and working at it for at least six months, fitting in coming back to india to get married (what new employer will give you that much time off when you have just started a new job) before we could even START applying for his visa – a process which was likely to take a minimum three months. I looked into the surinder singh route (a loophole by which EU citizens are able to bring their non EU spouses into Europe and then the UK) but this is now being cracked down on and would also have meant a lengthy separation with me living in an EU country.

We weighed up the options – by alternatively remaining in India and getting married, I would be unable to work for a year while I waited to be able to apply for a PIO card (on an X Visa). Not only would this drive me mad, he had no job – how would we afford it?(rent, school fees and so on…) The most important thing was what was best for my daughter.
We agreed that for now, and conceivably in the long run, it looked like we could have a better quality of life in the UK (less crowded cities, free healthcare, free school, benefits system which helps single parents on low income, support of family and friends). I hated to admit it and was in no way ready to end my love affair with India!

So it was set and after a tearful goodbye at the airport I was on my way home and I had never felt so miserable.
Once we were back my daughter missed her step-father terribly and asked for him constantly, especially at night when he would usually read her stories before bed. I felt heartbroken at the situation. It all seemed so unfair that these laws could tear apart my family like this! And to come back and see the evil UKIP all over the news moaning about immigration laws being too easy!
I though – I can’t be alone here – there must be other families affected by this. I looked on the internet and was saddened to see I was right. There was even one heartbreaking story of a woman who had an abortion rather than face being separated from her partner and bringing p her baby as effectively a single mother – this touched me greatly after my experience and made me even more furious at these unfair laws.

Time went on, I soon found a job, house and childminder and set to work resiliently. However the stress of it all had damaged my relationship badly (not to mention both me and my partner’s mental health!). The phone calls got fewer and fewer and the arguments more frequent. The relationship didn’t stand the test of distance and time. Now my daughter still asks for her step-father every night six months later – I can no longer tell her not to worry and that he is coming soon – I can’t lie to her.

However, little did I know, but my Indian story was in no way over – it may even have a happy ending – but that is all to tell on another day!

Below are some links to some UK immigration related resources and articles I hope other ex-pats may find useful:










Published by anenglishwomaninmumbai

A Brit writer, creative technologist and mother, living, working and loving life in Mumbai and beyond.

6 thoughts on “A Nasty Surprise! – Immigration Heart-ache (part 1)

  1. Can I just say I HATE immigration rules and how they keep tightening all over the place?!

    My spouse’s Canadian immigration took only a few months and as I was a student at the time, the government enabled my father to be a ‘guarantor’. None of what we did then can be done today.

    Then I lucked out being an early spousal PIO card holder before they added all the extra hoops and restrictions…

    Not an easy situation and can’t imagine what you are all going through… hope you have a ‘happy re-beginning’ what ever that may be! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey hey,

    Really sorry to hear you’ve found yourself at the mercy of this particularly horrid bit of Tory law.
    I’ve found myself in a very similar situation – was living in Belarus, but my business took a downturn and as my visa was linked to the company I found myself having to leave. I got married to my Belarusian girlfriend, but then found out, like you, that we weren’t welcomed in my own country.

    In my case, there was absolutely no was I was going to spend time away from my wife, so we chose to take the Surindra Singh route.

    We moved to Barcelona at the beginning of November, and it’s been a total breath of fresh air. The city here is amazing, the quality of life way higher than in London, and despite lots of horror stories on the internet, the bureaucracy and paperwork we’ve found to be not a problem.
    It took three days to find a shared room right in the centre of the city at a rent of 400euros a month.
    It took a month to get my residency sorted out.
    It took a month for me to find a job – which is super lowly paid, but is a means to an end.
    It looks like my wife’s residency papers will come through before the end of the month, which will be under 3 months in total.
    After being here from 3 months or more, we’ll be able to make the submission for the EU family permit from the UK embassy here, which would allow us to live and work in the UK – and will avoid the £900 visa fee AND the prospect of having to “prove” our relationship is valid by sharing personal emails and messages or whatever nonsense the Uk government has decided is a better way to assess things than an interview (which obviously costs too much for them to bother with any more)

    However, although we will go through the surindra singh process to get that stamp in her passport, mainly because i want to prove a point, we’re so loving life here in barcelona, that I very much doubt we’ll live in the UK again.

    Do let me know if we can hep in any way – and the best of luck with your situation!


    1. Thanks Gulliver and also to the rest of you for your kind words and sharing your stories. I hope that in the future the laws will change – or at least allow a case by case form off assessment especially when there is a child involved as is my case. I was advised against the Surinda Singh route by several immigration specialists, but reading this story I have no idea why as it is clearly still being used and is working.


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