Mother’s fight to settle in the UK

Theatre nurse Sarah Cox, who is from the Phillipines, has been told she cannot apply for British citizenship until her husband moves back to the country.
Theatre nurse Sarah Cox, who is from the Phillipines, has been told she cannot apply for British citizenship until her husband moves back to the country.

A MURROW couple are trying to get help so their Filipino daughter-in-law can apply for permanent UK residency.

Chris and Sheelagh Cox said Sarah Cox (46) has twice been told she cannot apply to settle in the UK because her husband, Dr Tim Cox, is working in Oman.

This predicament means she is currently having to travel from the Cox’s Front Road home in Murrow to Oman – a mammoth trip of more than 3,500 miles – every six months to retain her Oman residency permit.

Sarah is reluctant to give this up in case things go wrong with her UK visa. If this were to happen she would be forced to go back to the Philippines.

But the journey to Oman costs her around £1,300 each time. All because her husband is not classed as a permanent UK resident.

The family are trying to enlist the support of local MP Steve Barclay but have so far struggled to contact him.

Sarah was living with her husband – who is working in Salalah, on the Yemen border, as a HSE manager on the construction of a new airport – in the Middle East until last year when they decided she and their two children, James (10) and Kimberly (7), would move to England.

There was little secondary education where they were living and they did not want to send James away to school, so the difficult decision was made to split the family.

Sarah and the children are now living in Murrow with Tim’s parents and the children attend the local primary school.

Chris said: “This is ridiculous. Tim has two houses in the UK, he pays taxes, he puts money into the economy. But Sarah has no right to appeal this decision.”

Sarah is a trained theatre nurse with 20 years experience and has spoken English since she was eight years old. She also has two degrees to her name and wants to work.

However, she is only on a temporary visitor’s visa.

Tim is planning to relocate permanently to the UK in the next three or four years when his job finishes. But in the meantime, Sarah lives in a state of uncertainty, unable to work.

Chris said: “This is someone who wants to come here to educate her children and wants to work and actually contribute to society. She is not here to claim benefits.”

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “The immigration rules are quite clear. You are only entitled to settlement as a spouse if your partner is present and settled in the UK.

“Mr Cox is living and working overseas so Mrs Cox will need to wait until her husband has relocated to the UK before applying.”

Chris Cox has been trying to get hold of MP Steve Barclay to see if there is anything he can do to help, but said he has been unable to speak with him, despite repeated emails, letters and telephone calls.

The Citizen did not manage to speak with Mr Barclay but his office has assured us that he would be happy to help and apologised for the difficulties the Cox’s have been having in getting in touch.