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Hemsby couple fighting to stay together fear Home Office battle might be lost

PUBLISHED: 08:45 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:24 11 July 2014

Stephen and Arlene Watty of Hemsby are facing an immigration battle after the Home Office claimed they do not earn enough for Arlene to stay in this country. The couple pictured on their wedding day in 2012.

Stephen and Arlene Watty of Hemsby are facing an immigration battle after the Home Office claimed they do not earn enough for Arlene to stay in this country. The couple pictured on their wedding day in 2012.


A woman fighting to stay with her British husband fears she is losing the battle after she was fired from her job as a carer.

Arlene and Stephen Watty, of Hemsby, have been trapped in an immigration battle for more than two years after Mrs Watty, who is from the Philippines, had her application to stay in the UK after their wedding turned down.

At the time, the Home Office said Mr Watty did not earn enough money, adding there was no reason why they could not live together in the Philippines.

The couple last year lost their appeal and are appealing a second time.

But, while they wait for the Home Office to decide their fate, 45-year-old Mrs Watty has lost her job because of the uncertainty surrounding her legal case to stay in the country.

Tonight, BBC Newsnight will feature the Wattys in a programme looking at an immigration rule which stops couples living together in the UK if the British spouse earns less than £18,600 a year.

Mr Watty was unemployed when his wife first applied for leave to remain in November 2012, but he now runs a fencing business.

The Home Office rule which means only Brits earning £18,600 – more than the minimum wage – can bring loved ones to the UK is currently subject to a court of appeal hearing.

A High Court judge has already ruled the income requirement an “unjustified and disproportionate interference with a genuine spousal relationship” and a decision on whether it is lifted is due to be heard in London at 10am today.

The couple hope the judgment and television exposure will make more people aware of what is happening to hundreds of others like them.

“When we talk to people about what we’ve been through, they just can’t believe it,” said Mr Watty.

“They can’t believe there are some people who are allowed to come to the country and claim benefits and people like Arlene, people who work hard and contribute to their community, being turned away.”

“I’m crying inside,” said Mrs Watty. “It’s just so difficult, so frustrating.

The Home Office said it considered each application on its individual merits and that Mrs Watty was free to return to the Philippines and submit a fresh application under the spousal visa immigration rules – a process the couple feared would take years.

“I do not want to be ripped apart from my husband, from my home,” added Mrs Watty.

Newsnight is due to be aired on BBC Two at 10.30pm tonight.


  • Far better if this young lady had entered the country on a false passport. Been jailed numerous times for drug and violent crimes, under those circumstances she would have qualified to stay here.

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    norman hall

    Monday, July 14, 2014

  • I have seen this so many times before. As soon as she is allowed to stay they will divorce and go their own separate ways.

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    Pete Tilbury

    Monday, July 14, 2014

  • Both my sons are married to Singaporean ladies,both professionals,but due to nonsensical badly drafted laws they would both have difficulty in obtaining permanent residency in the Uk. It seems that within the EU we can import a legion of immigrants with few economic prospects,but outsiders have every barrier placed in their way. I sent our local chocolate teapot Chloe.Smith an E mail on this subject,but she didn't have the common courtesy to reply as expected.

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    Harry Rabinowitz

    Sunday, July 13, 2014

  • We know these people, they are a genuine hard working couple, and until the home office phoned the company that Arlene was working for, she was working in a caring environment, paying tax and insurance, they deserve the chance, to continue to work and stay together, in this, Stevens home country, they are not out for free hand-outs, they have proved that by their past efforts, and the amount of money that they have had to spend on the appeals, for the right of a woman to stay with her husband, I would say, that is HER Human Right.

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    junie 1

    Friday, July 11, 2014

  • I really feel for this respectable and honest couple, who, it seems to me, are being made a scapegoat of. Whilst Arlene was working I would like to bet that NI contributions and Income Tax were taken from her in her caring job, unlike so many of our unemployable immigrant friends who have no intention of working, except for working hard at claiming benefits. Come on Brandon Lewis and help out here. The working, tax paying foreign spouses really have an unfair deal. My friend has a Thai wife who worked for ages here paying taxes and NI contributions, yet is now told she is not entitled to benefits. So wrong.

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    Edmund Earle

    Friday, July 11, 2014

  • The article does not mention what was carried in earlier articles, that she was admitted to the country on a nurse student visa-but went to work in a care home. If this was the case, like others who get admission to the UK on spurious student visas, she should have been back in the Philippines long before now. People know the rules before they marry, no reason why the couple cannot make their home in her home nation.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, July 11, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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