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"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, 16 September 2013

Svetlana & Alan

“I’m afraid that by the time any positive decision will be reached on my 85 year old blind mum, there will be no one left to bring home.”

Svetlana and Alan are British citizens living in Walsall.  Svetlana is a qualified doctor in Ukraine and she also qualified as an optometrist at Aston University.  Alan is a schoolteacher with a degree in electronics, and he is also a good musician.

Svetlana’s parents are Ukrainian.  In 2008, both her parents were granted indefinite leave to remain. In 2008 the visa took two days in total from process to delivery.

They returned to Ukraine for a visit, but when her father became ill, they were unable to travel back to the UK as per medical advice.  So they ended up, for reasons beyond their control, staying outside UK for over the two years within which they are required to return in order to maintain their indefinite leave to remain.

In August 2013, Svetlana’s father passed away.  Her mother, Oleksandra is now 85 years old and certified blind (severely visually impaired) by doctors in both, the UK and Ukraine.  Her only living relatives are Svetlana and Alan on whom she is wholly physically and financially dependent.

Oleksandra needs help with washing, dressing, cooking and other everyday tasks. Oleksandra is not entitled to social care in Ukraine – which excludes cooking, help with washing, dressing etc anyway - because she has a daughter (Svetlana) who is alive and of working age.  Paying for private round the clock care is not financially feasible.



Moreover the family believes it is a human right to stay with family who will look after you.  Svetlana is adamant.  Her mum will be safe at home in Bloxwich.  She will be well looked after, as both Svetlana and Alan are settled and present in UK, with quite well paid jobs.


Svetlana made the application for her mother’s indefinite leave to remain to be reinstated.  She was told that Oleksandra would need to re-submit her biometrics before the application could beconsidered, despite the fact that the Home Office already has this information on their systems.

Indeed, they could have shown some flexibility in requiring the submission of biometrics were the ILR to be granted.  However they insisted this had to be done at the first stage.  Even though the Home Office allows their agencies to exercise discretion on this.

So the family undertook the 14 hour train journey to Kiev in 30 degrees heat, with an 85 year old widow to submit biometrics at an office with no lift and several flights of stairs, some steps broken and extremely difficult to navigate.

About a month later, including support from their MP, David Winnick, also on the Home Affairs Select Committee in support of their case, they received Oleksandra’s passport back, along with a Refusal of Entry Clearance.

The refusal was on the basis that Oleksandra has been away from UK more than 2 years, despite there being clear evidence that her not returning to the UK was due to compassionate circumstances, beyond anyone’s control.

Oleksandra’s application contained supporting evidence her deceased husband’s deteriorating health prevented their travelling back to the UK.   However this was completely ignored by the Entry Clearance Manager, despite this being allowed for in the Immigration Directorate Instructions.

Svetlana and Alan are now at a loss.  They are both using their holiday entitlement for 2013 to stay aslong as possible in Ukraine.  They never imagined that a visa which was granted in two days in 2008 under the previous government, would now take nearly four weeks only to be given a refusal. 

Their employers have also granted them limited compassionate leave.  However, both have been away from their jobs since 2nd August. Svetlana is an optometrist in a private practice in Bloxwich. Alan is a schoolteacher working in a Stafford school, who should have returned to school on 2nd September.

They cannot leave their blind mother/mother in law on her own.  It is dangerous and inhumane to do so.

However, there is a limit to the amount of time Alan and Svetlana can be away from their jobs as they have a mortgage to pay.  Also, Ukraine doesn’t let British citizens stay for more than 90 days.

They cannot fathom how their government could refuse the right for a blind disabled woman to live with her only remaining family without recourse to public funds!  

Although the family could appeal, the process will take several months.  Oleksandra cannot be left to fend for herself for that length of time.  The family’s problems are compounded by the fact that Alan’s parents, in the UK, are both 95 years old, double incontinent, suffering from dementia and heart problems.  They also need support from Alan and Svetlana.

The family is afraid.

They are afraid that Alan may not see both his parents together again, given the uncertainty around when he can return to the UK.

They are afraid that by the time any positive decision is reached on Oleksandra there will be no one to bring home.




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