Hawick mum’s anger at “enforced exile” due to migration visa cost hike

A Hawick mum-of-three says she is being blocked from returning home from Italy with her young family because of a proposed hike in the cost of attaining a legal migration work visa.
Sarah Douglas on BBC PolitcsSarah Douglas on BBC Politcs
Sarah Douglas on BBC Politcs

Sarah Douglas says an increase in the earnings threshold needed threatens long-held hopes of bringing her family back to the Borders.

She had moved to Italy in 2007, initially for a year, but ended up getting married and having three children.

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Sarah had always planned to return to the Borders when the children reached school age to be closer to her family.

But she said Brexit put a “spanner in the works” and she was faced with the prospect of either leaving her young family to move to the UK to work and meet the minimum income requirements or leaving her husband behind and taking her children to the UK, to effectively be a “single mom”.

Speaking on BBC Politics from her home in Perugia, Sarah said: “Unwilling to put my family through this hardship we decided to use the savings route, not easy in the current climate, but we were getting there and approaching the possibility of applying for the visa.”

Now she says the “goalposts have changed yet again” with the UK government planning to raise the minimum income required to make the move from the current £18,600 to £38,700 by early next year.

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Sarah added: “This has made it an impossibility for my family. The average wage in the Scottish Borders, where I would return to, is around £32,000.

"How would I be able to meet that as a full-time mom and the primary care giver to three young children?

“My husband has a job and earns more than the minimum income requirement but his salary is not taken into consideration.

“We own our own home outright, we are financially secure and stable but it counts for nothing.”

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Sarah added: “I am faced with the choice of family separation or enforced exile.”

She has called on Borderers to sign a petition against the proposed changes at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/652602?fbclid=IwAR0rrMXZLib2O3rJQfmfGjVmfAcNUArAE8K8QH6651dC4Inqs3zQW3tEy5Y