"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Monday, 23 September 2013


“I am ashamed to be British but I will keep fighting these rules.”

Elwyn is a 55 year old British man. He has two children and four grandchildren. He owns his own home in south Wales and is employed as a minister of a Christian church in the town. After nursing his first wife for eleven years, the last five, 24/7 sadly she passed away in 2012.

In 2013 Elwyn married a Ukrainian national who he had known for many years as she worked as secretary to a church he visited in Ukraine regularly. They looked into making their settlement visa application straight away. However, Elwyn was confused by the information on the UKBA website.

He sought clarification from the passport office and British Embassy in Kiev on at least six occasions, by phone and email. However the only thing that was forthcoming was that they were unable to provide advice, and Elwyn's pleas that he was asking for clarification not advice fell on deaf ears.

So the couple did what they thought was correct thinking Elwyn could seek clarification when he was submitting the application in person, before handing over nearly £1000 as the application fee.

All the documents had been translated and apostilled at an additional cost of £500. Elwyn however wasn’t allowed into the office and only his wife was able to go in and get the paperwork submitted. While it was being looked over, she asked if it was all right and was told that it would be submitted once the application fee was paid.

Three months later they received an email to say all the documents were on their way back and that the passport was ready to be picked up. They had been refused, because although they had submitted his wife’s diploma, along with her straight A grades as a graduate of Kiev university as an English teacher, they had not submitted the Cambridge English Test certificate.

Elwyn is now living in Ukraine, managing with regular trips back and forward to UK. His father is 85 years old and seriously ill, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Elwyn’s father’s dearest wish was to spend some time with Elwyn and his new daughter-in-law.

So while getting the extensive requirements and paperwork together for another settlement visa application, they decided to apply for a visitor visa so Elwyn’s wife could come and spend most of September with her new father in law. She sat the Cambridge exam and they still await the results of that. But this was not needed for the visitor visa.

Elwyn applied with all the necessary paperwork and the £90 fee at the Kiev office. He submitted a letter of support and itinerary for the time up to Christmas, when they were due to be in Africa on humanitarian work for six weeks from October. It was clear that this was just a visit.

However, the visit visa was also refused. This time on grounds that they’d been “less than truthful as it was obvious their intentions were not to return to Ukraine”. Elwyn has residency in Ukraine; they own their own apartment there and he has changed work roles so that he can remain employed whilst living in Ukraine until they are eventually in a position to be granted a settlement visa.

He finds it amazing that a civil servant would call a minister of the church untruthful! So Elwyn is unable to take his wife to see my 85 year old sick father, or his 62 year old severely disabled sister or his still grieving daughters and four grandchildren. Elwyn is now ashamed to admit he is British. He is adamant though that he will continue raising awareness of the issues he has faced, it’s now a personal crusade for justice.


  1. Can I ask why Elwyn did not ask assistance from an Immigration advisor/Solicitor to assist with his wife's visa application? Why would the British passport office know what the immigration rules are as their function is to issue British passports not to give immigration advice. Secondly the British Embassy is hardly likely to give immigration advice as they are not lawyers.

    It is very clear in the immigration rules that an ESOL certificate must be submitted and is a mandatory requirement.

    Whilst the rules on £18600 are draconian Elwyn like a lot of people on these pages are responsible for their own problems by not taking the correct advice. If you do not know what you are doing then get proper legal advice. I drive a car every day but I am not a mechanic.

    As for Elwyn being truthful, their are many religious people who are untruthful so that carries no weight. Having read Elwyns comments on other sites he comes across as unChristian and aggressive.

  2. We don't know from the above whether Elwyn did in fact seek legal assistance. Even if he didn't and he messed up by not sending in the English language test certificate the rules should allow a chance for people to send in missing documentation.

    In my experience many of the people on this site and others affected by the rules - even where they have sought legal advice - find themselves victims of Home Office technicalities or manufactured reasons for refusal. Indeed, often lawyers seem to be bemused by Home Office refusals too, despite their being paid professionals.

  3. I echo the comment above - this site even has a 'bureaucracy' label for this sort of thing : http://britcits.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/bureaucracy

    Regardless of whether or not the right form was filled out, on a human level, it is impossible not to feel for a man who is facing the choices Elwyn is - with a gravely ill father in one country, and his wife in another. His life is difficult enough as it is without dealing with the paraphernalia of bureaucracy. The rules should be tailored for human beings in these situations.

    As the world gets smaller, we'll see more and more of these tragic situations - both big and small.

    (Regarding the religious question, I speak as an atheist here!).

    'Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.'
    -- Salvor Hardin

  4. Actually, there is an alternative to submitting an ESOL certification: this isn't the first time people have been caught out by the English language requirement, and I wonder whether people are misinterpreting the "Degree taught in English" section at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/partners-families/citizens-settled/spouse-cp/documents/english-language/. Having said that, the rules do indeed allow people to provide missing documentation (see section D at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/immigrationlaw/immigrationrules/appendix-fmse/).