A LIFE 10,000 miles apart is about to become a shocking reality for a married couple living on the East Coast because of immigration rules.
Australian Gavin Clark married his wife Sarah, from Withernsea, last October after conducting a four-year long-distance courtship.
But the couple’s “fairy-tale romance” has not had the ending they hoped for and yesterday they were reeling from the news that Mr Clark faces deportation in two weeks time.
A letter from the UK Border Agency has ordered Mr Clark on to a flight to Australia from Heathrow on August 29.
He said: “I have nowhere to go to, no family. It has taken them six months to do this and they have given me two weeks’ notice. I am virtually under house arrest. There is no compassion, nothing.”
The pair put their home in Withernsea on the market after the 59-year-old’s latest application for a visa on human rights grounds was refused.
Mr Clark – whose work in his home country has included factory manager, management consultant and restaurant owner – said he came to the UK “for one purpose, to get married and live happily ever after”.
Originally he was allowed into the country on a marriage visa, but then failed to apply for residency on time.
Unfortunately this meant that when he was eventually processed he came under rules introduced last July that pose tough requirements, including a stipulation that a UK spouse must earn at least £18,600 to support a non-EU partner. But Mrs Clark does not earn enough in her supermarket job.
More than 1,000 signatures have gone on a petition to allow Mr Clark, whose late father Greg fought for the Allies in the Second World War, to stay.
Mr Clark, who has been unable to work under the terms of his visa, said: “For some reason the original application went to Manila in the Philippines.
“We sent all the information, Sarah’s employment, income, home address, everything. But it was refused on the grounds that she hadn’t supplied information on her income and residence. It took six months to get it overturned.
“I didn’t apply for residency as quick as I should have – but we were both unaware there was a time limit and by then we had been married four months. It then took another six months to get it processed by which time we were over the time and subject to the new rules on income. My point of argument is that they should assess me as they would have in November 2011.
“The letter from UKBA says there can’t be an appeal from inside the UK. Honestly it was a really fairy-tale romance, but it doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending.”
The case comes as a couple in New York face similar problems. As reported in the Yorkshire Post, Dave Carlisle, who was born and brought up in Holderness, married Mirna Wong in New York. The pair are desperate to return home and start a family, but although high-earners in US, Dave does not have a job in the UK earning £18,600 or savings of £62,000.
The new rules, which were introduced last July to ease the financial burden of migration on the state were recently challenged in the High Court. It ruled the laws were not unlawful but “onerous...and unjustified” and urged Home Secretary Theresa May to adjust them. The Home Office is appealing.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants estimates as many as 30,000 families may be affected by the new rules. Spokesman Guy Taylor said: “The very idea of them wanting families to live apart is outrageous.”
The Home Office said the Clarks had made an Article 8 application and “it was found there was no insurmountable reason for Sarah not to live in Australia”.