New Year is normally a time of happiness and optimism but for one Murrow family, their celebrations were tinged with uncertainty for the year ahead.
Sarah Cox was featured in the Citizen earlier in the year after being refused a settlement visa to stay in the UK with her children. Now, despite the best efforts of her family and MP Steve Barclay, she has again been refused her visa.
The Cox family believe they have done everything that was asked of them, including Sarah’s husband Tim resigning from his £100,000 per year job in the Middle East to show how serious they are about settling in the UK.
But to their disbelief, just two days before they flew home for Christmas from Oman, where Sarah has to make her visa application, they received a rejection letter stating they did not meet the financial criteria.
“As a family, we have more than proven to the world that we are not a burden on society,” Tim said, speaking from his parents’ home where Sarah and children James (11) and Kimberly (8) live. He was due to fly back to the Middle East today (Wednesday).
The strain on the family is clear, with Sarah fighting back tears at the thought of having to leave her children for six months.
The simple answer appears to be for Tim to move back to the UK and get a job here, but he said with Sarah unable to work they would lose their house, as he would be unable to earn a similar wage.
Sarah is a trained theatre nurse and there are hospitals needing nurses with her skills locally. With both of them working, they could make ends meet but not with just Tim bringing in a wage.
Tim said: “I want to challenge the government’s interpretation of its own law, which I think is fundamentally flawed. There is no benefit to refusing Sarah’s visa. Would they be happy if I was down the dole office, signing on and asking them to feed my children and parents?”
The family are extremely unhappy with their treatment by the embassy in Oman and said they were messed around by officials and given the wrong information about how much money they needed to have.
Tim claims it was also not made clear that they needed to have had a certain amount of money in their account for six months prior to the application. This was one of the reasons for their visa refusal.
“If we had been told this at the start, we wouldn’t have bothered. Sarah could have applied for a visitor’s visa, got it in a few days and at a fifth of the cost. We wouldn’t have had to go through all this stress.”
Tim and Sarah are also concerned about the potential effect on their children. James poignantly asked for his Mummy and Daddy to be home safely when asked to write his Christmas list.
Both children are excelling at school – Kimberly at Murrow Primary School and James at Peele Community College in Long Sutton – and their teachers noticed a visible change in them while Sarah had to leave the country to make her visa application.
“They don’t understand,” Sarah said. “I am standing there with my suitcases and they are saying ‘Mummy, why do you have to go?’”
A spokesperson for UKBA said they are unable to comment on individual cases. Steve Barclay has raised the Cox’s case with immigration minister Mark Harper, who will be instructing his officers to review it.
Mr Barclay, who was praised by the family for his support, said: “There need to be tough rules on immigration in place and they need to be enforced, but at the same time there needs to be common sense. These rules were put in place to stop people abusing the system and being a financial burden on the state, but this clearly isn’t the case here.”