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‘I’ve not seen my wife and kids for 10 months’

09:03 19 August 2014

Sidford resident Ralph Leadbetter with photographs of his family who remain in Indonesia unable to live with him due to current immigration laws. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1622-33-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

Sidford resident Ralph Leadbetter with photographs of his family who remain in Indonesia unable to live with him due to current immigration laws. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 1622-33-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

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A WORKING dad has been unable to hug his wife and children for 10 months because immigration bosses say he does not earn enough money.

Together, 2 years ago in Indonesia - Myself & wife with our son & daughterTogether, 2 years ago in Indonesia - Myself & wife with our son & daughter

A WORKING dad has been unable to hug his wife and children for 10 months because immigration bosses say he does not earn enough money.

Ralph Leadbetter has told how his young family have been ‘torn apart’ by a law that has left his loved-ones living 8,000 miles away.

The only contact the Sidmouth hotel supervisor has with his Indonesian wife of six-and-a-half years, Ervina, and children Harry, five, and Malika, two, is a weekly phone call.

He recently bought a three-bedroom ‘dream home’ in Church Street, Sidford, but they cannot enjoy it with him because he does not make £18,600-a-year.

“The house should be filled with life and children shouting and Evi calling from the kitchen,” said Ralph. “I don’t want to raise them by Skype.

The 45-year-old even made a personal plea to Prime Minister David Cameron – only to receive a reply from the Home Office saying Ervina would be a ‘burden on the tax payer’.

“I haven’t seen them for 10 months and there is no hope for us being together now, our family unit has been torn apart,” added Ralph.

“Our husband/wife relationship suffers, the children are deprived of a father and I’m deprived of my wife and children.”

Researching the issue, he discovered that the law affects 4,000 families in the UK.

Ralph speaks to his family every Saturday, but hanging up leaves him wishing they were not 8,000 miles away.

The couple got wed in February 2004 and their marriage is recognised by British law. Harry and Malika are both registered with the British Embassy in Jakarta, and hold dual nationality.

Ralph wants to highlight the issue and the ‘unjust’ nature that has stopped him raising his family. He added: “Harry asks his mummy, ‘why does daddy keep going away? Have I been naughty?’ It breaks my heart because that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Changes in immigration law in July 2012 meant Ralph would need to earn at least £18,600 a year before he could bring his family home. Ervina is also waiting to sit her English test, which has been delayed.

“I am a full-time worker and own my own home. However, due to the new laws, I have been effectively separated from my family,” said Ralph.

“I find that friends, family and people in general are unaware of the laws governing British Nationals with non-EU families.

“When I explain my situation it is always the same look, ‘but it’s your wife’.”

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