"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.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

BritCits Happy Family of the Week - Abhay


My mother was refused a visit visa, and now the Home Office, despite the Judge ruling in favour of granting a settlement visa, continues to refuse my mother entry.

Abhay is a UK resident.  He has been living here for several years, and during this time diligently working in a role which puts him in the higher-rate tax payer cateogry and claiming no benefits. 

Abhay, his wife and child have all satisfied the requirements for British citizenship.  However, despite being a net contributor, Abhay is being forced to re-assess his future in the UK, because of his experience with the immigration rules which mean not only has his mother been refused a visa to settle in the UK, but also prevented from visiting them.    

When Abhay was 12, his father passed away. As the eldest of four children, Abhay was a huge support to his mother, prematurely becoming the man of the house, and his mother’s crutch and confidant.  As soon as he was old enough, Abhay worked to help provide financially for the family, ensuring his siblings got access to an excellent education and as per Indian culture also paying for his sisters’ weddings.  Abhay shouldered the responsibility of a father and in doing so, there naturally developed a special bond between mother and her eldest child.  There is no doubt that his mother is entirely dependent on Abhay.

As time passed, and the other kids flew the nest, including one younger sibling also now based in the UK, Abhay’s mother found herself alone.  She has trouble with things that the younger generation takes for granted – mobile phones, going out shopping, using an ATM.   With two of her children in the UK, including a grandchild, Abhay was keen for his mother to come visit them. There was no intention that his mother would live here.  At her age, to adjust to a new life, culture and indeed, British winter, would be very difficult.   However, when a visa to visit the UK was refused, Abhay decided to apply for a settlement visa for his mum, as this would allow her to visit as frequently as she wanted for five years, without further visa hassles.

To his surprise, UKBA refused the application.  This is despite all the evidence showing Abhay’s mum:

·         lives alone in India.
·         is unable to leave her apartment complex on her own
·         doesn’t have any close family to help with everyday tasks; running errands, going to the temple,     going to see the doctor.
·         is entirely financially dependent on Abhay
·         is unable to use modern technology like ATMs or mobile phones
·         doesn’t have many friends where she lives having lived there for a short time
·         when unwell and in pain, was forced to phone Abhay in the UK who then arranged for a neighbour to take his mum to the hospital

As part of the settlement visa application, Abhay’s mum was required to travel hundreds of miles for a face to face interview at the UK embassy in Chennai.  Luckily, a distant cousin happened to be around at the time and Abhay called in some favours to arrange for his mother to be accompanied – Abhay paying for all the necessary travel and accommodation costs of both his mother and the cousin. 

Little did he know that by being able to arrange this, the Home Office would use this as an excuse to refuse the visa by saying his mother was not alone.  That the cousin is distant, and not living in the same city as his mother – or even more importantly, that the responsibility for his mother’s welfare falls on Abhay, not a distant cousin, seems to have been conveniently ignored.

Indeed, if Abhay hadn’t been able to arrange for his mother to be accompanied, the application would have also been refused as Home Office would say that the applicant did not attend the interview as required!

The Home Office refused the visa; Abhay appealed and the Judge ruled in favour of the family, citing that there is a close tie beyond those of only an emotional nature between Abhay and his mother, what with Abhay having, to all intents and purposes, provided a roof over not only his mother’s head, but the younger siblings as well.  The Judge ruled that Abhay’s mother is entirely dependent on her son and therefore maintained that his mother should be granted a visa to settle in the UK.

Unfortunately, despite what should have been a delayed happy ending, the Home Office has appealed and for this family the battle continues. 

According to the Home Office, the Judge has not taken into account the immigration rules (even though he has).  

According to the Home Office, the Judge failed to give reasons as to why Abhay’s mother is dependent on her (even though this is in fact very clearly indicated).

However Abhay will fight the battle for the right of a son to look after his mother. For a son to not abandon a mother who raised four children on her own.  For the bond to develop between grandchild and grandmother. 

The result and nature of the battle will determine the future of this family in the UK.  Whether we retain the valued skills of Abhay, or lose them to another country willing to afford family rights to its migrants, time will tell.

Update: Abhay’s mother is finally in receipt of her settlement visa. Abhay has bought a larger house and is glad to finally be able to live with and look after his mother who travels back and forth between India and UK, relieved that her entry is no longer subject to the whim of caseworkers.

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