This is a guest post from my friend Ustiniya who fears that her family will be separated after Brexit. Ustiniya’s situation is complicated – she is Russian, while her husband and child are British. Once her husband loses his right to free movement in Europe, it will be almost impossible for them to find a country they can settle in together.
The situation is heart-wrenching and will by no means be an isolated case after Brexit, when families from different national backgrounds will have their rights to live and move freely across Europe removed.
The separation of families is a real cost of Brexit and hostile immigration policies.
When I hear people say ‘Brexit means Brexit’, I cannot any longer hide my anxiety. With less than two months before the deadline, thousands of people and families are still unsure about what will happen to their lives.
Our family is one of many that will be affected by Brexit. My husband and son are both British nationals whilst I am a third-country national. I am required to have visas to go to most countries and my residency and ability to work in them is mostly dependent on my husband’s status. As a family with different citizenships staying together in the same country has always been a priority, although it should be a human right. As a result of UK’s hostile immigration policies and Brexit, our fear of separation is becoming more and more real. We cannot simply return to Britain, as my husband needs to secure a job there for at least 6 months before my application (that can only be filled in from outside the UK). In the meantime, I am expected to live somewhere alone or with our son, waiting for that period, without opportunities to visit. My family visitor visa was rejected twice before when we wanted to go and visit my husband’s parents. The only way we managed to do so, was a few years later by claiming our EU rights as Finnish residents, the rights that are now being taken away from us.
We escaped separation by relocating to Finland, where my husband defended his PhD and where we had our baby. Although the job situation wasn’t great, we liked the country, we liked the security it could offer to our family, to our children. Our EU residency for Finland, however, will expire by the end of 2020, which means that we now have a very limited time to find some new ways of staying there together. My husband can only apply for a short-term travel visas to come with me to Russia, my native country where I haven’t lived permanently for the past 10 years. Our current temporary employment in Shanghai does not provide long term answers either and we might need to sacrifice it in order to go back to Finland as soon as possible and search for new jobs before our documents expire.
Four different countries and not a single one to call home or to allow the three of us to stay together permanently. That’s our reality at the moment and I am sure it is the same for many families who simply want to be together regardless of their passports