|February 2001||Steve and Lia meet each other while living in Munich, Germany and become best of friends.|
|October 2002||Steve and Lia realise that they are in love!|
|March 2003||Steve moves to London to start a new job; Lia visits as regularly as she can.|
|October 2003||Lia discovers that she is pregnant with our child|
|November 2003||We begin to plan a wedding for the earliest possible date
after Lia's divorce is finalised in January, and think about where to
|24th January 2004||Our
beautiful wedding takes place in the UK, with 60 guests, most of whom
fly in from overseas.
|Early February 2004||After a weekend trip to visit friends in
Luxembourg Steve talks further with his employer about moving to the
USA, and we decide that we want to settle instead in the UK.
Lia receives medical advice to avoid flying while pregnant, so we contact the Home Office to find out if we must make the settlement application abroad. After fully explaining our situation, we are told that we can make an in-country application if we include a covering letter detailing our circumstances.
|12th February 2004||We submit our settlement application with a covering letter as
|19th February 2004||Receipt of application (and £155 processing fee) is confirmed by Home Office, who "Aim to complete 70% of postal applications within 3 weeks of receiving them in IND."|
|24th February 2004||A progress update from Home Office;
"Your application is valid but we are sorry to have to inform you that we can't decide it on initial consideration. It is therefore being passed to other teams for further enquiries and/or more detailed consideration."
|11th March 2004||We receive notice of the Home Office decision:
"You applied for further leave to remain as the spouse of a person present and settled in the UK, but your application has been refused.
|15th March||Steve writes to his Member of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Chris Smith. Mr. Smith offers to make representations on our behalf to the newly-appointed Minister of State for Citizenship and Immigration, Mr. Des Browne.|
|14th April||Having received copies of our correspondence with the Home Office, Mr. Smith writes to Mr. Browne.|
|14th May||Mr. Smith receives a letter from Mr. Browne, who explains in
detail that, according to the Immigration Rules, our application was
not valid due to the exact circumstances we had previously explained to
the Home Office in our telephone call.
Mr. Browne also implies that we had deliberately neglected to obtain the "appropriate entry clearance" when re-entering the country from our weekend trip, neglecting that we only determined to settle after our return, and that we were willing to travel again soon thereafter if told that it was necessary.
"Presumably, Mrs. Purcell then left the United Kingdom by air and re-entered the United Kingdom, by air, on 1 February. Also, as Mrs. Purcell had leave to enter the United Kingdom until 1 August the refusal notice specifically stated that Mrs Purcell was not required to leave the United Kingdom due to this decision. [...] Mrs. Purcell's circumstances were not considered sufficiently compassionate to warrant the exercise of discretion outside the Immigration Rules.
|26th May||Mr. Smith replies to Mr. Browne's letter, explaining that it
is far from ideal for Lia to travel with Grace overseas, and that
obtaining the "appropriate entry clearance" will be disruptive to our
family life and extremely distressing.
|1st June||Grace is born, with minor complications.|
|17th June 2004
||Mr. Smith advises us that he has received a reply to his
further correspondence with Mr. Browne, which leaves him no opportunity
to represent us further; it is a terse re-statement of the previous
letter, concluding with the statement that:
"It does not appear that the circumstances of this case are sufficiently compelling or compassionate enough to justify granting leave to remain on a discretionary basis. Mrs. Purcell should make arrangements to leave the country in August and apply for an entry clearance as a spouse. If this is granted, Mr. [sic] Purcell may then apply for two years further leave to remain and seek indefinite leave to remain at the end of the probationary period."This once again fails to recognise that we would not have made an expensive application with a supporting letter from within the country if we had not been told that it would be considered.
The Home Office letterhead bears the motto "Building a safe, just and tolerant society", which its attitude to us hardly appears to support.
|29th June 2004
once again to Mr. Smith to thank him for his help and to ask if the
matter might be referred to the Prime Minister.
|4th July 2004
to the Prime Minister to ask him to investigate our case and ensure
that common sense and individual consideration is applied to our
Steve's parents have also written to Mr. Blair.
|17th July 2004
||Steve receives a reply from Mr. Blair's "Direct
Communications Unit", indicating that the buck has been passed back to
the Home Office.
"The matter you raise is the responsibility of the Home Office, therefore [the Prime Minister] has asked that your letter be forwarded to that Department so that they are also aware of your views."(Update: no further response was received, nor was any response made to a letter written by Steve's parents to Mr. Blair asking him to intervene.)
|25th July 2004||
With the deadline for Lia to leave the country approaching fast, we
received and followed advice from the Immigration
Advisory Service to repeat Lia's application, this time explicitly
on compassionate grounds.
We gathered letters supporting those compassionate grounds. A letter from our GP and health visitor advised both Lia and Grace to avoid flying on medical grounds; that letter and others from Steve's employer, family and acquaintances confirmed the distress the matter was causing the family, and the distress that would result from Lia being compelled to travel to the US with Grace at that time.
To explain our re-application, we wrote a very polite and comprehensive letter of our own.
|15th September 2004||We received notice that Lia's second application had been refused. The refusal notice offered Lia the choice of appealing the decision or leaving the country within 28 days on pain of forcible removal -- ironically, this removal was described as being sent "home"!|
|24th September 2004||
Having undertaken extensive research and sought legal advice, we submitted
an appeal against the refusal.
It appears that both the refusal of our application and any subsequent removal of Lia from the country would be not only unfair, but possibly also illegal under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which grants everyone "the right to respect for his private and family life". The grounds that we have cited for our appeal include the likelihood that the actions of the Home Office are or would be in breach of that Article.
The appeal process can take up to a year, and during that time we cannot leave the country without voiding the application. (We learned that there are 100 full-time Adjudicators who hear appeals for refused immigration applications!)
Although it would be nice to have the refusal overturned, our negative experience during this saga has led us to prepare to leave the country and live instead in a country that will welcome us.
|2004-present||See updates at page top|