Let Jeff Stay: Stop Family Separation

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The current spouse visa rules make it unnecessarily difficult for UK citizens who have been living overseas to return with their families. We want to see a change in the requirement for spouses to apply from outside the UK. 

 About Jeff and Alison:

Alison was born in Sunderland and moved to Australia as a teenager. Despite having lived mostly in Australia, she has retained strong ties to the UK. She returned to the North East in January 2018 to take up a research post at the newly formed Oral History Unit & Collective at Newcastle University. Her husband and children accompanied her, but because of UK visa rules requiring a sponsor to have worked in the UK for six months, Jeff came initially on a tourist visa. (Both children are UK citizens.)

Having sought advice from Citizens Advice, Jeff applied for leave to remain in the UK, but has now been refused on the grounds that there is no strong reason why the family could not return to Australia. He has been given 14 days to appeal or leave the country. The couple are appealing the decision.

Alison was appointed as part of a newly formed Oral History Unit & Collective at Newcastle University as part of a strategy to invest in an area of important local and international research.  

The Atkinson-Phillips family have now been living in Newcastle for nine months, and have settled well into the local community. Daughter Mia (13) attends Heaton Manor School and is looking forward to performing in a coming school play. The couple’s adult son Tijaan is working at a local pub. He lived in Manchester for two years as a small child, and is enjoying being back in the UK and having the chance to re-connect with members of Alison’s extended family. Both children have made friends through the Newcastle board-gaming community.

Jeff has a chronic pain condition which means he cannot work, but Alison’s wage as a university researcher meets the required income threshold, so there is no concern about a cost to the UK government. Jeff is Mia's primary caregiver, and has been for most of her childhood. 

The decision letter offers two options:

1. Jeff returns to Australia alone, separating the family. This has been deemed "section 55 complient" (ie, respecting the rights of our child) because it will not separate Mia from her mother. This is despite Jeff's application explaining that he is Mia's primary care-giver.

2. The whole family can all return to Australia, thus denying Alison and Mia their rights as British citizens to live in this country, and costing Alison a job she loves.

If Jeff’s appeal is unsuccessful, Alison said they would have no choice but to return to Australia. “I acknowledge the point that we could live in Australia again,” said Alison “but I find it very upsetting that my country of birth doesn’t seem to care about keeping me here, or value the contribution I am able to make.

Please sign this petition to ask the Secretary of State to:

1. Reverse their decision so that my family are not forced separate or to leave the UK. 

2. ALSO, please ask the Minister to CHANGE THE RULES so that other UK citizens have the right to return to the UK with their long-term spouse.  



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Alison Atkinson-Phillips needs your help with “Let Jeff Stay: No to deportation of British academic’s husband: No to family separation”. Join Alison and 3,505 supporters today.