Benjamin and Brian Page reached out to us at Hornet about a horrible situation they’re currently dealing with in the U.K. When they became a married couple in New York City in 2014, they had no idea that less than five years later they’d be fighting to stay together for reasons not their own.
Below Ben recounts the discouraging situation he and his partner Brian are currently facing, and if you’re able to show them any support, they’ll be forever grateful!
In 2012, when Brian and I met, I was living in Central London with a pretty good career, and Brian was an architect back in North Carolina. We met on a train in London, where Brian was visiting for a friend’s wedding, and our eyes locked. We said hello. Brian went home the next day, but we decided to stay in touch.
From that moment, for five months, we spoke every minute of every day when we weren’t working (and probably a lot of time when we should have been). Due to the time difference I would stay up until 5 a.m. most nights to talk to Brian so he could try to get to bed around midnight. I was sleeping for two to three hours per night and was tired all the time, but it was worth it.
I’m not sure I really believed in love before Brian.
I had never been in love, but I found myself falling for Brian quickly. He was in my same position. He was from the “Bible Belt” of North Carolina and was so scared to be who he was that he completely denied it all.
In November 2012 we each decided we had to see one other. We booked our tickets and made a plan to spend a month together. Two weeks after I returned home to the UK, we were both miserable being apart, so I decided to move to the United States! I gave my notice at work and packed up my apartment and flew back to North Carolina — this time permanently, or so I thought. I was terrified I was giving everything up, but I had this feeling that it was the right thing to do.
For the next 18 months things were going great, and we decided to get married. On June 6, 2014, after having lived together since 2012, Brian and I got married in New York City.
But everything changed in November 2014.
I got a call from my father telling me my mother was seriously unwell in intensive care, and she might not make it through the night. So my husband and I packed two bags each and flew to the UK the very next day. I had no idea just how unwell she was. She had severe lung disease as well as various other health problems. We spent every moment with her until a week later, when we were told her illness was definitely terminal and there wasn’t anything else they could do. I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt, but we decided we wouldn’t leave her side.
She was so sick, but it seemed to give her a new lease on life having us there. So we stayed until we lost her, which was the worst time of my life. My parents were married for 44 years and were soulmates, so my dad was a mess, as was I. She was a very special person.
We only had six months on my husband’s visa, so after around five months we went to see an immigration attorney to extend it for another six months. I accepted a job working as a Learning and Development Manager for a small training company, and Brian was so happy to be away from the Bible Belt and away from the judgment that came with living there. Brian wasn’t able to work yet, but we decided to go for Brian’s visa.
Sparing you the long, drawn-out process, we’ve now been fighting the UK government for his visa for almost four years now. I never thought we would be asking for people to help us stay together.
After draining all of our savings over the last four years, we don’t have the money to fight anymore. We’ve tried everything to raise funds in time, and borrowing the money isn’t an option either.
So now we’re asking for assistance in fighting the Home Office at the Upper Tribunal. We’ve been refused at the First Tier Tribunal and told we could go live in Canada as we sort out our visa. Yes, you read that correctly — the judge told us to go live in a third-party country alien to us both.
The judge also refused to recognize the marriage of my husband and me. The judge kept referring to our “civil partnership” despite us being legally married — truly disrespectful.
We’ve been told that we have only 14 days from Sept. 5, 2018, to apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal or we must make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom. Due to the upcoming deadline, we’ve set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who’s able to help us continue our fight.
My husband and I want to thank you for taking the time to read our story. We want to continue to raise these issues concerning the struggle British citizens and their families — regardless of whether their spouse is EU-based or not — are going through. Please help us keep up the fight and change these horrible rules!
Brian & Benjamin Page