A desperate British father who started a crowdfunding campaign to raise £62,500 to get a UK visa for his Filipina wife of 17 years has had to admit defeat.
Dean Homer, aged 48, has been unsuccessful in getting members of the public to raise the large sum the Home Office says he must have in savings if he wants to bring his wife and two children to Britain without securing employment first.
Mr Homer, originally from Wolverhampton, now faces spending months apart from his family while he returns alone to seek work.
“Knowing that I’m going to be split up from my family and have to come back to the UK alone is horrible,” Dean said. “I can’t explain it. To leave behind my three-and-a-half year old boy is what will kill me the most.”
On March 29, he launched an appeal for money on GoFundMe.com, a crowdfunding site which allows anonymous or named donors from across the globe to give money for various causes.
Mr Homer only raised £335 of his proposed £62,500 from five donors after sharing the cause on Facebook.
“I couldn’t get the momentum behind it,” he said. “If only 62,500 people had given a pound – that’s the price of a chocolate bar.”
He and his family, currently based in Manila, wanted to return to Wolverhampton to start life over again after he lost his job as operations manager for Star Cruises. He and his wife, Meljie, 42, have two children, Charlotte, 16, and James, three. They met in Singapore in 1996, when both working on a cruise ship, married the following year, and later moved to the Philippines.
Another reason for moving back to Britain was wanting to care for Mr Homer’s elderly mother who has health problems. But the family was defeated by laws which require the British half of a couple to earn more than £18,600 before they can move here with their non-EU partner. This was part of a Conservative pledge to cap immigration, brought in in 2012.
Mr Homer said his family passed all the requirements to secure a UK visa except the financial one.
He either had to have a job in the UK and have been earning at an annual salary rate of £18,600 for six months or have £62,500 saved. He explained that, since he did not want to leave his family behind to get a job in the UK, the only option for them was to raise the £62,500.
“My wife is very upset. She’s been crying all week. We’ve been together for 17 years and now we’re being split up,” he said.
On his GoFundMe page he wrote: “I’ve always been independent and paid my own way in life. So I find asking for any kind of charity very humbling and embarrassing.”
Yet, he explained: “I was desperate. I just couldn’t find the money anywhere else. I went around asking family, friends, everyone. No one’s got that much money. It’s a huge amount.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “This amount is decided by the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) [an independent public body]. This is what is suggested you need to support that particular number of dependents without significant financial aid.”
Mr Homer and his family are now preparing for him to return to the UK to find work. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be without them.
“It’ll take me a little while to find a job that’ll get me that much money,” he says. “And after six months, I’ll have to reapply and wait for them to approve my visa. I’ll be there at least a year. Probably a lot more.”
However, he is determined that they will eventually leave the Philippines. “I just don’t want my kids to have to live here when they could grow up in the UK,” he said. “I want opportunities and the best start in life for my son.”
After his experiences, he feels strongly that the visa laws need revising.
“They are ridiculous,” Dean said. “What they’re asking for is ludicrous. No one’s got £62,000. I just don’t know how they can justify it. I’m British and our kids are British, so obviously I feel let down by the Home Office.”