When most people hear of a problem with UK family immigration paperwork separating families, they think of the issues which surround non EEA/EU nationals coming in from other countries to join a resident spouse or partner on a UK settlement visa. The issue which has caused problems for the Carlson family recently is far more complex and yet many people would agree shouldn’t be causing a problem at all.
Chad Carlson spent eleven years at RAF Lakenheath whilst serving with the United States Air Force. Whilst there, he met and married Beverley and they have two children, Jacob, five and Florence, who is two. When Mr Carlson left the USAF to take up a post in the aviation industry, he quite correctly applied to the UK Home Office Border Agency for a UK spouse visa. He submitted his further leave to remain (FLRm) application to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in February 2012 and over eight months later has still not received his visa.
This delay is clearly unacceptable but the situation is worse than a simple wait for the visa. Mr Clarkson had to return briefly to the USA as part of his military retirement orders and because the UK Border Agency still has his passport, he is unable to come back to the UK. His job is in jeopardy because he can’t travel without a passport. To make matters even worse, his wife can’t even join him in the United States because, as part of the spouse application process her passport is also being held by the UKBA.
The couple’s MP, Matthew Hancock, has made a special call to the UKBA and has received an apology for the situation, but there has been no movement to break the stalemate. He said, ‘I was concerned to learn about the Carlsons’ problems and will do whatever I can to help them through this difficult situation. I have already been in contact with the UKBA about Mr Carlson. The agency is right to have apologised for this six-month delay and they must now treat this case as a matter of urgency as I have requested.’
Many people choose to go through a professional immigration consultancy and cases like these underline the need for this kind of help. Despite government initiatives to make forms and other paperwork easier to understand, the backlog and difficulty of dealing with the UK Border Agency in general and regarding the complex area of UK marriage visa immigration process in particular will still cause problems, no matter how simple the form.
Mrs Carlson is remarkably patient, given the situation, but is rightly upset on behalf of her children, who have now not seen their father for some time. When children are so young, every day spent apart is irreplaceable and they obviously miss him greatly. ‘The children are still very confused, especially Florence. She constantly says ‘where are you daddy?’ and has imaginary conversations with him on her toy telephone, while Jacob says ‘mummy, can we go to America today?’ ‘It’s heartbreaking. What do you tell them?’
The UK Border Agency has confirmed that there is no update available on Mr Carlson’s application at present.
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