'When are you coming home daddy?' Heart-breaking story of a family separated by immigration
- Credit: Adrian Boniwell
A Bideford man who has not seen his wife and daughter for more than four years and fears for their safety every day has condemned the Government for not letting him bring them to the UK.
Adrian Boniwell does not know when he will see his 11-year-old daughter Angelia or his wife of 14 years Marisha again after her visa application to immigrate from their home in South Africa was rejected.
Adrian is a British citizen but has dual nationality and was born and raised in South Africa, although he has also spent many years in the UK.
The 43-year-old lives daily with the fear of his loved ones on their own in a very dangerous country, where car jackings at gunpoint and murder are common.
Marisha, aged 36, also lives with brain epilepsy, which causes seizures and is bipolar - she had to spend seven months in hospital in 2019 and should not live on her own, but has no choice as the family do not have the money to attempt another application.
Adrian is the bar manager at Durrant House Hotel in Bideford although he is currently furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He has despaired of becoming nothing more than a voice on the phone to his family and his daughter constantly asks ‘when is daddy coming home?’
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But the family are in a hideous catch 22, as unemployment in South Africa is incredibly high and if he returned without a job, they could all end up homeless.
As it is, he earns just enough to pay their South African rent, school fees and food, but cannot hope to raise the £6,000-plus needed to attempt another application for a spouse visa.
Adrian has launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding appeal to raise enough money to at least try and get Angelia made a British citizen.
The application at the end of 2019 was rejected because the Home Office felt Adrian as the sponsor did not meet the minimum earning amount necessary – he argued he did because accommodation and board is part of his job package.
It also said the couple had not provided evidence of Marisha taking a test to show her standard of English, but the couple said they had not been made aware a certificate was needed.
And lastly, the Home Office said there was not enough evidence of her medical conditions to justify the application under human rights legislation, but the family again said they were not made aware of this.
Adrian said: “I am a hard-working man who is just working hard to support my family. All I am to my family is a phone, they need to be with me as a family should be.
“The fear of my wife getting car jacked or something happening is on my mind 24/7. I just feel the whole system is messed up.
“One of my colleagues joked ‘why don’t you bring your family over in a boat as they will get everything’.
“It’s so heart-breaking speaking to my daughter on the phone every night, saying ‘daddy when are you coming home’ and I can’t give her a hug. She should not have to deal with everything on her own.
“I can’t afford another application for years, I honestly can’t.”
Adrian met Marisha many years ago when he went back to South Africa for a holiday after he had been working in the UK. They married in 2007.
With the job situation so poor, he returned to the UK four years ago to try and get enough money to bring his family over.
Marisha told the Gazette: “For the past four years in our marriage we have relied on a phone and a voice - my husband doesn't have the finances to travel home to visit us and the last time my daughter saw her father was when she was seven-years-old.
“Most of my days I battle with my illness, being sick, in actual fact I'm not supposed to live on my own, but I just have to push myself to do so as I've got my daughter to take care of.
“We live in a very dangerous country, especially the fact that we are two females on our own. I live in fear every single day of my life, fearing for myself and my daughter's life.
“My husband suffers every single day of his life, crying over a phone how much he misses us. He is all by himself and he’s got no family in the UK.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Spousal visa applications can be refused if the applicant does not meet the income threshold.
“It is right that there are minimum income requirements for family migration to prevent burdens being placed on the taxpayer.”
If you wish to support Adrian Boniwell’s appeal for Angelia to be made a British citizen, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/trying-to-raise-money-to-get-my-daughter-to-the-uk