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: