“Not allowing my mum to live with us in the UK means I would have to move to Russia. My husband would follow and 50 jobs in the UK would be affected.”
Katharina is a British citizen, living in the UK with her husband, Richard, and teenage daughter, also British citizens. Katharina and Richard met in Finland, when she was working there as a trader and export secretary and he offered her a job. The two fell in love and the rest as they say is history, with the couple married now for about eighteen years.
Katharina’s mum, Tatiana, is 77 years old and from Russia. Since her retirement as an artwork valuer, she has been a frequent visitor to Katharina’s home for nearly six months every year, only sometimes with Katharina’s father as he was still working in the Russian Art Museum in St Petersburg. Their close relationship has been further facilitated by holidays with Katharina and her daughter, in other parts of the world (Katharina’s husband could not take time off work because of their business interests).
Katharina’s dad passed away in 2011, following which Katharina plays a more significant role in her mother’s life. Indeed, Tatiana is also like a second mum to Katharina’s husband.
Tatiana is a heart patient, having suffered from a heart attack and her being on medication to thin her blood. Continuous monitoring is required as the dosage varies depending on results of blood tests which Katharina helps her mother with. Furthermore, such medication in Russia is usually bought over the counter rather than on a prescription basis, and statistics showing 70% of all medicines are not conforming to the required standards, and sometimes are even fake. Tatiana also suffers from arthritis in her knee and spine, fainting spells, forgetfulness, fear, confusion and panic attacks when alone.
There is also concern for the level of medical attention in Russia; ambulance crew may need to be bribed to take you and hospitals will not admit patients if they are full. It would be difficult for a heart patient in her 70s to navigate the process. Particularly poignant for Katharina is that her father was the victim of a fatal heart attack; he was in hospital when it occurred but it was misdiagnosed as anaemia. So although in a private room, no one came to help him. The thought of losing her mum in the same way is untenable.
Furthermore, Tatiana has a history of collapsing relating to episodes of confusion and the building her apartment is in is in dire need of structural repairs – a 7-storey block built in 1969. Its condition and poor management result in a regular need for internal maintenance work with which this 77 year old is unable to cope, especially now without her husband.
Tatiana does have another child – a son. However he is estranged from the family, having left home ten years ago and subsequent to his leaving his wife and two children, his whereabouts too are unknown – his most recent known location was Monaco. Tatiana’s two three siblings have also all passed away and those of her friends who are alive are immobile and being looked after by their own family. So Katharina is her mother’s only crutch.
It is difficult for Katharina to leave the UK, even for frequent visits. Her husband runs a factory in Welshpool while she manages the administration. The factor is the largest producer of Ferro Titanium in Europe. The couple also own a farm in Snowdonia with a herd of 80 highland cattle. Their business interests make leaving for protracted periods impossible. Katharina’s husband would also not be legally able to carry out his business in Russia as a ferro-titanium producer, as in Russia this is considered strategic material and thus strictly under the government’s control. However, he feels that sending his mother-in-law back to Russia alone ‘would be like sentencing her with the death penalty’.
So Tatiana’s removal would cause the family as a whole to contemplate leaving their way of life in the UK in order to keep the unit together and Tatiana cared for.
What is bizarre to this family is that there would be no burden on the taxpayer if Tatiana were able to live in the UK – in fact, were she forced to go, it’s likely to be worse because of the potential job losses.
Accommodation is not an issue; the family live in a large property consisting of two houses and 14 acres of land. There is a dedicated area for Tatiana in their family home – she has her own bedroom, bathroom and dressing room.
Initially, Katharina took her mum to a UK cardiologist working privately. However it was suggested by the doctor and a staff member from NHS administration in Wales that Tatiana uses NHS services even after Katharina explained that she did not mind paying for private cover. However they said that because of a bilateral agreement between UK and Russia, the costs would be passed onto the Russian government anyway.
Katharina is also well able to look after her mum; several years ago an account was opened for Tatiana with a deposit of £10,000 with the funds used for Tatiana’s personal expenses, supplementing cash gifts. This is definitely not someone who would ever need to rely on public funds as the family’s resources are significant and more than sufficient to cover Tatiana’s needs.
Tatiana not being allowed to live in the UK would also mean that the relationship enjoyed with her granddaughter could not be maintained in its current form either.
The other issue faced by Katharina is the rules not permitting in-country applications. Surely where a relative is suffering from ill-health, to expect them to leave the UK in order to make an entry clearance application is nonsensical?
Katharina is adamant that were UK to refuse her mother the right to reside in the UK, she too would need to follow her mum to Russia. Katharina’s husband has indicated he too would thus feel compelled to move to be with his wife and her mother. However the impact from such a move not only on this family unit but the approximately 50 people whose employment their businesses are responsible for, will be felt for a very long time. The impact on Katharina’s daughter would be especially disproportionate, given she is approaching sitting for her GCSE’s.
1) On 6th July 2015, the family received information that their application for permission to have a hearing at the Upper Tribunal was once again refused. The family will make a new application next week with a change of circumstances due to her new diagnosis; they are just astounded that it has been three years since their first application, with no end in sight!
2) Katharina’s husband is now planning to apply for Polish citizenship so that if despite all attempts they are unable to satisfy the UK rules, he may be able to renounce his British citizenship in order to make use of EEA regulations for Tatiana to reside in the UK as a family member of an EEA, albeit no longer British, citizen.
3) In October 2015, Tatiana was diagnosed with dementia, and has been treated at Welshpool Medical Centre ever since. It is well known that this condition is not treatable and though its progress is inevitable, Tatiana has been prescribed memory pills to slow down the deterioration.
Now more than ever, Tatiana relies on Katharina for daily tasks. She suffers from psychological problems which Katharina is able to provide assistance with 24/7 as her job allows her to work from home. Although symptoms of the memory loss and confusions were prevalent a lot earlier, an assessment carried out before the settlement application was disregarded by the Home Office who argued the condition may never develop into a disease.
4) In more bad news, Katharina’s husband has been recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition requiring open heart surgery within the next 12 months to replace a failing valve. He cannot travel abroad at the moment, even were he to leave his business here. To expect him also to move to Russia would now be impossible on medical grounds as well as loss of livelihood.