Kokougan Kponougla has been waiting for his visa to be accepted for over a year, his twins are now 9 months old and he has never met them.
This is due to the Home Office believing his relationship with his partner is illegitimate. This has stopped Mr Kponougla’s partner, Ms Mettle-Olympio from getting a job to sponsor her partner’s visa, which would require that she earn over £18,600 a year. But without childcare, she cannot meet this threshold. The Home Office released a statement claiming that they did not believe the pair were in a “genuinely subsisting relationship” and that they’re “not satisfied” that Mr Koonouglo intends to stay in the UK after his visit.
Due to this, Ms Mettle-Olympio had to go through pregnancy and childbirth alone, Mr Kponouglo hasn’t been able to meet his babies as they’re still too young to get vaccinations that they’d need in order to travel to Ghana.
Ms Mettle-Olympio has said “Right now I’m just sitting at home, and I’m desperate to go back to work. Childcare costs almost £1,000 each per month, so it’s not worth me working part-time. I’m having to rely on benefits, which is not what I want.
“If he were here and we were a unit, everything would be consolidated. We would be able to support each other. But right now our life is on hold. If I’d have known things would be this complicated, I would have had an abortion.”
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) released a statement saying at the “very least” 15,000 British children were living with one parent still abroad due to UK Immigration laws. When asked in parliament to give a more updated figure, the immigration minister Caroline Nokes refused the question.
In a statement released to the Independent, Mary Atkinson, a family reunion campaigner at the JCWI said: “In 2019, we can and should do better than forcing young mothers into a situation like this, making them raise their children alone and give up on their careers simply because of who they have chosen to build a life with. Yet sadly, Barbara’s is far from the only loving family to be separated because the Home Office refuses to believe that people can fall in love across border(s)… The Home Office must now urgently review these rules, and help bring families together where they belong.”
The couples original goal was for them to come to the UK, Ms Mettle-Olympio, 33, would be able to go back to work while Mr Kponouglo, who is currently working as an electrical engineer in Ghana would’ve cared for the children, they then planned to apply for a family visa and settle in the UK.
Ms Mettle-Olympio said: “I’m in a catch-22 situation,” she said. “And it’s been very difficult for my partner. He feels incompetent and almost useless. I have to tell him this is beyond our control. We’re doing all we can do.”