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Family separated due to ‘callous’ immigration rules

Leighsa Henderson married her husband Scott while he was stationed in Mildenhall. Now they cannot get a visa for him to live in England

Pictured: Leighsa Henderson and son Alex ANL-140319-101327001

Leighsa Henderson married her husband Scott while he was stationed in Mildenhall. Now they cannot get a visa for him to live in England Pictured: Leighsa Henderson and son Alex ANL-140319-101327001

‘Callous’ immigration rules have left a family separated by thousands of miles because a woman’s health prevents her earning more than £18,600.

Scott Henderson has not seen his son Alex, 11, for two years.

He is prevented from rejoining his family in Lakenheath because his wife, Leighsa Henderson, is unable to meet the Government’s financial requirements.

Leighsa, 42, said: “Alex really missing his dad. He’s old enough to realise how long things are going to be.

“It’s difficult having your partner so far away when they could be there to support you.”

The couple met while Scott was working at RAF Mildenhall. They had Alex, in 2002 and married in 2005.

Scott left the military and returned to America in 2006 when the couple separated. In 2009 they reconciled and he is looking to return to his family.

However in 2012 immigration rules changed and for a spouse to move to the UK the British partner must earn more than £18,600 or hold more than £62,500 in savings.

Leighsa suffers from fipromyalgia, which causes pain and fatigue, and relies on Employment Support Allowance.

She is working towards an Open University degree to increase her employability.

Although Scott, who has a degree in engineering and computer technology, has the potential to earn more than £18,600 this is not considered.

Leighsa said she understood that the Government did not want immigrants to be a strain on the public purse.

However as an American citizen Scott could not claim welfare and it is likely his employment would allow her to stop claiming.

Habib Rahman, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “This heart-breaking case is unfortunately not unique. Our experience is of hundreds, if not thousands of similar cases across the country. In the drive to lower net migration figures, the Coalition Government are sacrificing the family lives of people who don’t earn enough. How can they callously put such a price tag on people’s family lives?”

 

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