When I first persuaded Barry to accompany me back to England to meet my family, in April 2007, I had no idea what the consequences would be!
The only way he’d agree to leaving his photography business for three weeks, was if we could fit in a narrowboating break. I paid his fare (I was earning good money then!), and he paid for a four-day-four-night mini Birmingham Ring narrowboating holiday. My younger daughter and mum and dad came. He was smitten …
Fast forward two years, and he’d persuaded me to take six-month’s unpaid leave from my job; sold his photography business DnK; sold both our respective houses and bought one together. We bought Northern Pride, and spent six-months travelling on the canals.
We both loved it so much, we decided to do it again he following year. Returning in 2010, we dreamed a dream that maybe, just maybe, we could make it work for the foreseeable future. But how? Barry was only ‘allowed’ to stay in the country for six months at a time, and leave for another six months. We’d just have to get his UK visa. That didn’t sound too difficult at the time …
Little did we know that the ‘Hostile Environment’ was being hatched by people like Theresa May and in July 2012, unbeknownst to us, she’d managed to change the ‘rules’ for Spousal Sponsored Visas so dramatically that obtaining Barry’s ILTR would become a massive challenge. Had we known how long it would take and how much it would cost, not to mention the stress and strain involved, I doubt we’d have been so keen …
By the time we discovered the changes, we’d already sold the house we’d bought together in November 2008, and booked our flights to UK the following March 2013. Barry could only apply for his initial visa from New Zealand. So we had the first added expense – another return ticket for Barry August to October 2013. Plus the cost of the visa specialist in NZ, and the application cost. We had to have £62,500 in the bank, easily accessible, and to prove it was ours. Barry ‘passed’ round one and returned to me in England, sat at Tattenhall Marina, ready to commence his Home Brew Boat business.
Round two. Two and a half years after the first application, we had to apply again. The rules kept changing, and we found it so complex we engaged a visa specialist solicitor to help. Not getting the application right could’ve entailed paying again to apply – which was more expensive than paying solicitors fees. We had to have the £62,500 again to show we could ‘sustain ourselves without recourse to public funds’. Additionally each application entailed detailed proof of the length of our relationship and marriage.
We actually could’ve applied for the final round in November 2018 – but as we were engulfed in our third Calendar Club season at the time, and I was building up my skills with Ad-Extra, it was the extra plate that we couldn’t spin. So we delayed the application as we had until a few more months to make the application. Same as before, we had to prove all we’d already proved, and had to have £46,500 in savings.
As regular readers will know, we make the mistake of thinking we didn’t need to pay the extra to ‘fast track’ this last stage. And instead of the six week it’d taken for the first two stages, this one took five months. Barry missed the holiday of a lifetime on the French Canals and Venice with some fabulous New Zealand friends who had planned their trip especially to have Barry as Captain on the canal boat.
Thankfully the end result was positive and Barry gained his Indefinite Leave To Remain. However …
It’s not actually ‘indefinite’, unlike my New Zealand ILTR is. If Barry was to have to leave UK for two years or more (which is possible, he has children and family there for goodness sake!), then he would lose this ‘right’ and have to go back to the drawing board.
So we decided we had no choice but to apply for his British Citizenship. Yet another outlay of around £1,500. But this time we felt confident enough to not go through a solicitor. So we did save that outlay.
At the end of December 2019, we heard that his application for Citizenship had been successful. What a massive relief!
Today Barry was awarded his Citizenship certificate at Chester Town Hall by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and The Sheriff of Chester.
Our dear friend Fred from Sheffield was one of the two allotted guests. He and Sara have been a tremendous support to us both, along with many others.
Barry has had to pledge his allegiance to the Queen and Great Britain. Which is not difficult for him!
He will, once we get his British passport, have dual citizenship with his New Zealand passport that he’s able to also keep.
Isn’t it ironic that we’ve had to wait until Barry has the right to stay before we could plan to leave and go back to New Zealand for a few months, after being here for almost seven years. I guess the fact that we have family and friends in both hemispheres isn’t taken into account …