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Enfield family fear being split apart by new Home Office visa rules

Paige and Tom married in Enfield in 2018 and have a two-year-old daughter but face the fear of Tom being denied the right to remain under new visa rules, reports James Cracknell

Paige and Tom Ballmi with their daughter
Paige and Tom Ballmi with their daughter

An Enfield mother fears her husband could be deported if proposed changes to UK visa rules by the Home Office go ahead.

Paige Ballmi’s husband Tom came to the UK in 2018 as a spouse from Albania and the couple – who have a two-year-old daughter together – are due to apply next spring for their final visa providing indefinite leave to remain.

But this week the Home Office announced the introduction of new rules which suggest that Paige and Tom will no longer meet the income thresholds allowing him to remain.

Paige told the Dispatch: “The new proposed rules will mean the goalposts have been moved and we will no longer meet the requirements of living in the UK. It will mean that all the stress we have already endured will have been for nothing.

“We now have a two-year-old daughter and if these rules are to be set in stone, we have four months to earn the required £38,700 minimum income – or my husband will have to leave me and my daughter behind.”

Tom works as a builder currently but his income fluctuates and would be unlikely to meet the new higher threshold, which the Home Office is proposing in place of the current position of £26,500. Paige hasn’t returned to work since their daughter was born.

She said: “It will push me into the welfare state, as I have no job, no childcare, no support, he [Tom] is my only support. He’s been in the UK for so long and built his home here, he has nowhere else to go.

“He has worked so hard [but] has become a government scapegoat just because of where he happened to be born. We are not the only family that will suffer under these new proposed rules, but it’s not fair.”

Paige and Tom were separated not long after they became engaged when the Home Office ruled in 2017 that their combined earnings did not meet the existing threshold – a decision that was later overturned by a court appeal.

Paige added: “I haven’t slept all night worrying and my PTSD, which was already caused by the Home Office, is now rife. I’m finding it hard to function at the thought of my family being split up again.

“I’m disgusted, disappointed, and I just don’t know what to do. These rules already tried to kill me once. I’m not sure we have the strength to do it again.”

The Dispatch has approached the Home Office for clarification over the new rules, when they will be enforced, and what it means for couples already living in the UK. In response the department sent its press release which originally announced the change on Monday (4th).

The press release states that from next spring, the government will increase the earning threshold for overseas workers by nearly 50% from its current position of £26,200 to £38,700, “encouraging businesses to look to British talent first and invest in their workforce, helping us to deter employers from over-relying on migration, while bringing salaries in line with the average full-time salary for these types of jobs […] The government will also increase the minimum income required for British citizens and those settled in the UK who want their family members to join them”.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.

“My plan will deliver the biggest-ever reduction in net migration and will mean around 300,000 people who came to the UK last year would not have been able to do so. I am taking decisive action to halt the drastic rise in our work visa routes and crack down on those who seek to take advantage of our hospitality.”