TENS of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the Home Office to scrap the minimum income requirement (MIR) for a UK citizen to bring their spouse to live with them here.

The petition was started by an American woman reunited with her Scots husband after The National highlighted their two-year battle with the department.

READ MORE: Tories branded 'clueless' as Dominic Raab rejects Scottish visa

Juli Duffy will today present it to the Home Office.

She and husband Tony met while she was studying in the UK and were married in 2017, but bureaucrats said the self-employed plasterer did not earn more than the MIR of £18,600 and forced her to go back to the States.

However, after support from their SNP MP, Tommy Sheppard (below), and backing from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) she was granted a spousal visa in October, after a two-year battle.

The National:

When she returned to Edinburgh, Duffy vowed to continue to campaign to help other families separated under similar circumstances, as well as for an independent Scotland.

“So many Scottish people have joined Tony and I in our fight, it’s only right that I give back to the country that has welcomed and fought for me,” she said.

Her petition, with 36,000 signatures, will be handed into the Home Office ahead of Valentine’s Day, along with a bunch of roses before Duffy and JCWI representatives head to Westminster to lobby Parliament.

READ MORE: SNP blast Tory visa plan rejection as another 'broken promise'

Duffy told The National: “The MIR forces families apart every single day. It means a British person must earn more than £18,600 a year in order to live in the UK with a partner from outside the EU. It discriminates against the self-employed, [like Tony] and people from ethnic minorities [because of pay gaps]. and families in rural areas where wages aren’t as high. In fact, more than 40% of the working population in the UK does not meet the MIR.

“I was forced to live thousands of miles away from my husband, and our family was torn apart for a year. It was the most heart-wrenching and anxious year – all we could do was wait to see what would happen.

“We fought and campaigned, and thankfully we are back together now – but the fight doesn’t end here. Why? Because we’re not the only ones. There are thousands of families separated – some for years – all because of this unfair rule.

“That is why, we are asking the Home Office to #HaveAHeart and scrap the minimum income requirement because families belong together.”

The National:

Duffy said they decided to raise awareness of the MIR after receiving support from people who did not know it was as issue. However, she said they were hearing every day from other families who were being torn apart: “Reading the comments on the petition is heartbreaking. There are so many people signing because they, too, are apart from their families, some for years on end. It’s hard to tell if I’ve become more aware of how frequently stories like my own are in the news because I’ve experienced it personally or because there are simply more families are becoming victims of the hostile environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the latter.”

READ MORE: UK minister: Scottish immigration system would be too complicated

Mary Atkinson, from the JCWI, said support for the couple’s campaign was “phenomenal”, and added: “It goes against people’s sense of fairness and common decency to see a loving couple like Juli and Tony split up for months by Home Office bureaucrats, at a time when they should have been just starting their lives together as a married couple.

“That they are now reunited and continuing to fight for the rights of the thousands of other couples and families who are still fighting for the right to be together is inspiring. The Home Office needs to understand that couples affected by its cruel policies won’t be torn apart – instead they’ll come back stronger, and fight for justice for others.”

The Duffys have now settled into family life, but she admits to a lingering fear: “We’ll need to apply again in 2022, so until then I think there will be a fear, however small. It may slowly shrink but until we are free from the Home Office’s grasp, we will always worry about being separated again.”