Married couple blast ‘unjust’
migration rules

A HARD-WORKING couple who have been married for seven years have been barred from returning to East Yorkshire from the US by what they claim are “unjust” immigration rules.

Carlisle and Mirna Wong

Dave Carlisle, who was born and brought up in Holderness, tied the knot with his wife Mirna Wong in New York, where they both work.

But the pair are desperate to move back to East Yorkshire to start a family and live closer to his parents, who have a home in Thorngumbald.

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Under rules introduced in July 2012 – which were challenged on human rights grounds last month in the High Court – a UK citizen needs to have a salary of £18,600 or a guaranteed offer of a job on that salary or savings of £62,000 in order for a non-EU partner to immigrate into the UK.

The High Court 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 couple say the rules are taking a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” and are catching people out who want to work and contribute to society.

Ms Wong, 27, said: “Dave is the love of my life, just the thought of being apart fills me with despair.

“I love New York, but we are trying to settle down. We are still renting a one-bedroom flat and it is just so expensive to live here and buy anything.

“The longer we wait, the longer it takes for us to start a family. The number one thing we want to do is move over and start our lives.”

Her husband, 32, who went to South Holderness School and worked as an auditor for Ernst & Young in Hull before moving to New York, added: “A lot of people say why do you want to swap New York for Hull, but we are thinking about raising kids.

“I want to be able to raise kids where they can ride bikes in the streets and play in the fields. My parents are also getting older.

“I’m sure if there is an immigration problem, people in our situation aren’t a significant part of the problem. The laws are catching the wrong sort of people.

“I assume they are doing this because they are worrying people are importing arranged marriages, (people who are) going to end up on benefits.

“We are unlikely to be relying on benefits and we have been married for seven years – you’d think that would account for something.”

Dave, who is now a US citizen, added: “While we can understand that a nation should have the right to control its borders, we feel like these current regulations are a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.”

The couple, who both work as public servants for the City of New York, earning £100,000 between them, met at a tennis camp in Connecticut after Mr Carlisle left Leeds University.

They were pen-pals for two years before embarking on a long-distance relationship after she got a job with British Airways.

She shuttled backwards and forwards every month for two years – but says she cannot face being separated again.

They say the rules are “unreasonable and almost impossible to attain” and trying to get a job in the UK while living in the US is unfeasible.

“We are trying to save up,” said Mr Carlisle. “But it could take us years.”

The pair have written to local MPs in the hope that the Government will consider looking again at the rules.

They believe the Government should take into account factors like earning history and education as well as the number of years married.

A Home Office spokesman said it welcomed people who wanted to make a life in the UK, work hard and make a contribution but “family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense”.

He said: “Our family changes were brought in to make sure that spouses coming to live in the UK would not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support and would be able to integrate effectively.

“We are pleased that the High Court judgment of July 5 supports the basis of our approach. However, we believe matters of public policy, including the detail of how the minimum income threshold should operate, are for the Government and Parliament to determine, not the courts.

“We also believe the detailed requirements of the policy are proportionate to its aims. We are therefore pursuing an appeal.”