A WIFE is battling controversial red tape which is standing in the way of her dream of returning to Dursley to start a family with her husband.

Rebecca Gray, aged 30, who was born and raised in Dursley, says changes to immigration rules threaten plans to bring her husband Baran Kaya, who is from Turkey, to the UK.

Rebecca - who has been together with Baran for ten years - says they want to rebuild their lives together after experiencing the devastating earthquakes last year. 

She says they both only survived the tragic disaster due to her husband's "quick-thinking”. 

The couple first met in Icmeler in south western Turkey in 2014 and eventually married in May last year. 

Rebecca's entire family all currently live in the Dursley area, her father was the Douglas Gray, a well-known local football manager who died at the age of 58 in 2017.

From April 2024, the minimum salary requirement for people wishing to bring a foreign partner to the UK will rise to £29,000 from £18,600, eventually rising to £38,700 by early 2025.

The Home Office says they hope the move will cut immigration levels, which have reached record highs in recent years, and ensure families can support themselves.

Gazette Series: Rebecca Gray with her husband Baran Kaya on their wedding day last year Rebecca Gray with her husband Baran Kaya on their wedding day last year (Image: Rebecca Gray)

"Many families will be torn apart by this new law"

Rebecca had a long-distance relationship for seven years with Baran before moving to Turkey permanently in 2021. 

Rebecca, a former Rednock School pupil, said: “So many don't realise there are us Brits tied up in the government’s attempt to gain a grasp on immigration.

“Our reason for returning is that we were at the epicentre of the earthquakes last February and lost and mass buried over 250 of my husband’s family members. 

“Luckily we survived thanks to my husband’s quick thinking. 

“But we are still living in a house that is damaged beyond repair as our life is tied into this visa process to attempt a rebuild.”

The couple have not yet applied for a spouse visa as the Home Office will automatically deny them due to its requirement to keep £62,500 in savings for six months.

However, as part of the process, the couple will have to send proof of continual contact including private WhatsApp conversations, family photos and call logs. 

Gazette Series: The couple experienced the devastating earthquakes in Turkey last FebruaryThe couple experienced the devastating earthquakes in Turkey last February (Image: Rebecca Gray)

Rebecca owns online jewellery store Grays Jewellery Co, which also has a shop in Icmeler. 

Meanwhile, Baran's income and savings from working at his family's bar in Icmeler are not eligible to be included in the visa application.

She added: “My entire family including mum and step-dad still live in Dursley along with my four siblings and their families. 

“We started the extremely expensive process in November last year for me to return to the UK with my foreign husband. 

“We need six months of bank statement savings held at £62,500 just in order to apply. 

“The new increase means we are just days late to apply and the new threshold we have to attain is nearly £113,000 held for six months.

“My self-employment income in the UK doesn’t meet the threshold alone and under government rules cannot be combined with our savings.  

“My husband’s employed and self employed income from his business also can’t be used as sufficient proof as the government doesn't allow it, it solely falls to me as the sponsor."

Gazette Series: Rebecca runs an online jewellery shop and a store in Icmeler, southwestern TurkeyRebecca runs an online jewellery shop and a store in Icmeler, southwestern Turkey (Image: Rebecca Gray)

Gazette Series: Rebecca Gray

“Why are the families of British people not a priority?" 

A national petition has been launched by affected families, with the goal of getting the topic debated in Parliament if it receives 100,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, Rebecca has also started her own campaign on TikTok, with her most popular video receiving more than 40,000 views.

She said: “I’m trying to use my voice for the many families of British citizens and kids who will be torn apart by this new law.

“Siobhan Baillie MP is fighting day in day out for us, I can’t fault her efforts. 

“However, without us reaching the petition signatures, chances are we will no longer have a choice to ever return to my family and live a life in the UK together like we do here in Turkey. 

“He isn’t even allowed to visit for Christmas with me.

“Why are the families of British people not a priority in the immigration process?”

“I will continue to do all I can to help her" says MP 

Siobhan Baillie MP said: “Rebecca is a powerful advocate for her case.  

“Everybody knows that governments around Europe are under extraordinary pressure regarding the levels of legal and illegal migration and this is why there have been changes to rules.  

“It is however important to set out how policies can have unintended consequences and immediate impact on families where necessary. 

“I have raised Rebecca’s case and I have sympathy with the position she finds herself in as she was given no time to prepare, including for changes to amounts needed to apply for residency.  

“I will continue to do all I can to help her and to see whether there is any way her case can be reviewed.

“It is to her credit that she is being constructive and thoughtful over something that is obviously emotional for her and her family.”

Home Office statement 

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The government will raise the minimum income requirement in line with the salary threshold for skilled workers, but will do so in stages to provide predictability for families, starting in spring 2024.

“The MIR has not been increased in line with inflation or real wages since its introduction.

“The Home Secretary, in his announcement to Parliament on December 4, 2023, made clear that the intention is to bring the MIR in line with the new minimum general salary threshold for skilled workers, £38,700. 

“This will ensure people only bring dependents to the UK they can support financially and will apply to all British and settled sponsors under the five-year partner route to settlement.

“We keep all of our policies under review with regards to the impact on net migration, families and equalities.”