Sign up to The American magazine's newsletters (below) to receive more regular news, articles and updates on America in the UK.
UK Home Office Apologizes to US Citizen over Visa
90 year old American, Albert Dolbec, was told to return to the US to apply for a visa to live with his British wife
The UK Home Office has apologized to a 90 old US Citizen who lives in the UK after wrongly advising him to return to the US to apply for a spousal visa to remain living in the UK with his British wife.
As reported by a number of UK newspapers including The Guardian, US Citizen Albert Dolbec has been married to his British wife, Dawn, for 25 years. The couple split their time between the UK and US, before settling in Britain three years ago when their health declined. As The Guardian reported, "Albert, however, mistakenly entered the UK on a visitor's visa, thinking he could convert that to a spousal visa from inside the UK. For the past two and a half years, the family have been trying to persuade the Home Office that he should be allowed to rectify his mistake without returning to the US."
Marina Breeze, the daughter of Albert's wife, Dawn, explained at the time that "My mother is Albert’s official carer ... Albert requires constant support from her with his personal care and medical condition. His short-term memory is diminishing and his judgment of what he is capable of is poor." Albert's wife, Dawn, went on to say that "If Albert is forced to leave the UK he will have to travel alone. He finds it difficult to walk: he can’t feel his feet. He is hard of hearing and uses hearing aids. On arrival in the USA he would be homeless with nothing but a bag of clothes and a walking stick. If he returns to the US, I am extremely concerned that we would lose track of his whereabouts and not know if he was safe."
Last week the story took an about turn as the Home Office sent a letter of apology to Mr Dolbec. The letter, as noted in a follow up by The Guardian's Amelia Hill, says "It has been determined that your indefinite leave to remain in the UK was never revoked ... When you entered the UK in 1997, it appears that the ILR stamp in your passport may have been overlooked and you were issued leave to enter as a visitor ... However ... there was no requirement for you to apply for leave to remain. Please accept our sincerest apologies for any difficulty, stress or inconvenience this may have caused you, your spouse and your family."
In response to the apology, Marina commented that "we’re only celebrating today because we’re educated, persistent and financially able to have fought for all these years ... Despite all that, it was only when we raised public attention, through our MP and the media, that the Home Office began to care enough to really look properly at our case ... What about all the families without our advantages? They have to accept wrong Home Office decisions and see their families destroyed as a result."
If you are an American living in the UK who is struggling with UK immigration rules, you can send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.