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A letter to my MP

To whom it may concern,

I am a British national who has lived in South Korea since April 20th 2008. I remember the day well. I was hit by a wall of humid air as I disembarked from the plane and walked with trepidation into the unknown. Never in a million years could I have seen my life going the way it has all those years ago. For a start, I ended up marrying a beautiful young lady who just so happened not to be British.

I have worked very hard since coming to South Korea. I got a degree and a teaching qualification. I then went on to get my masters in English from Sheffield University while working and undertaking distance learning. I've worked at an engineering university and a military university. I am currently preparing students for life in UK universities such as Coventry and Sussex where they contribute enormously to the UK economy by paying double the tuition fees of non EU residents.

 My wife works in trade for a European petrochemical company, and speaks English better than many native speakers I know. She is highly capable. We earn very good money here. So much so, that we have already met the £62,500 savings threshold that allows foreign spouses from outside the EU to move to the UK.

I do not say this in order to be braggadocios. Rather, it is because I had heard that some people had already written to their MP's only to be told the law was in place in order to stop low skilled workers with a lack of funds from claiming money from the government. I say it as someone who feels they have a lot of advantages, but who also worries about the complexity and difficulty of being granted a visa for the woman I love.  I feel we have so much to offer, but I feel the environment does not seem welcoming and is one that currently views people like me and my wife with distrust and scorn. Even if we are admitted, I cannot help but feel terribly sorry for those less fortunate.

For those outside of London, meeting the £18,600 requirement for moving their spouse over can be problematic. Over 40% of current UK employees earn under that amount. What if I cannot make that money. Have you seen the infrastructure in Swansea? How many jobs require experience teaching English as a foreign language?  I want to invest my savings into property, not have to put it aside for a visa. The whole thing is a headache. Why doesn't the government simply put limits on the welfare system if it is that which they are concerned about, instead of denying British nationals a life in their own country if they do not meet specific financial restrictions?

I read about a Singaporean national who has lived in Britain for 27 years and who has had grandchildren in the UK. She was impounded in an immigration centre for a month then made to leave with £12 in her pocket on a flight out of the country. Imagine, sir, if that were your wife. Where is the humanity in that situation?

Children are growing up without their mother or father because the British spouse is unable to get a job that allows their foreign spouse to move over. The spouse could be a doctor or a scientist on a fabulous income with boundless potential, yet this is not part of the consideration. It all rests on the UK national, who might well be a mother to her children and who needs the support of her spouse.

Far from wanting to take money out of the system, I want to contribute. I am ambitious, and I plan to buy houses in the UK and become a property developer over time. I hope to employ tradesmen to regenerate houses and I want to work hard with my wife to make a success of things in the UK like we have in South Korea. There are things I miss there, and seeing my father's hair turn from jet black to white over the last 8 years has made me work that much harder to save and do what I can to build a base for us to thrive. It would be hard to justify remaining in the UK to my spouse if I took her back to benefits and poverty and that is certainly not my intention.

South Korea is one of the hardest working countries on the planet, and it has taught me all I need to know about work ethic. It has one of the highest proportions of university graduates in the world. Anyone who has been to Seoul or Busan knows how incredibly modern the country is, and how it has all been constructed at breakneck speed over the last 60 years. Samsung, Hyundai and LG are examples of some of the hi-tech conglomerates here.

Brexit Britain needs to be a truly global society to retain a competitive edge, otherwise globalised countries will surge ahead. One only needs to look at the example of a closed economy like North Korea which has a lower GDP than Apple computers makes in revenue, compared to a trading economy like South Korea which is ranked the 11th largest GDP ahead of Russia.

If PM May is truly intent on making Britain global, then the removal of this intolerable law must be done as soon as possible before more lives are torn apart, and to ensure that those whose lives have become a living hell are spared from their ongoing suffering. There are always individuals behind statistics. Please do not turn a blind eye to good people who need your voice to be heard.

If 15,000 children can be easily reunited in a home, surely this is worth doing?

There should be no price on love.

Best regards,

Daniel James


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