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Is Immigration Bureaucracy Based on Common Sense?

An immigration appeal is won and the Home Office concedes their error in refusing to issue the visa, but serious obstacles arise unexpectedly when it comes to endorsing the visa vignette in the applicant’s passport. Can the passport be stamped in the UK? Does a mental health patient have to travel abroad in the company of her carer to humour a bureaucratic requirement. Kadmos Immigration Lawyers talk about their clients’ frustration after all legal battles have been won.

Last year, Kadmos immigration lawyers celebrated with their clients a victory in a prolonged and complex appeal in the Upper Tribunal. The appeal concerned refusal of an adult dependent relative visa and subsequent refusal of the appeal by the First-tier tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).

Kadmos lawyers were brought in to advise on the merits of appealing against the decision of the First-tier tribunal after the previous legal team found no merit in the appeal.

Apparently, there was merit since the Upper tribunal set aside the decision of the First-tier tribunal and gave a detail guidance on how the issues had to be addressed. The case was remitted to the First-tier tribunal for a fresh hearing but the Home Office wisely reversed their own decision and decided to issue the visa.

The facts of the case may be worth reciting in brief since they are not so uncommon.

The appellant was a Ukrainian woman, widowed, in her early sixties, recently retired from her job as a hospital doctor. She lived alone in Kyiv. Her daughter, a naturalised British citizen, lived in the UK and worked for the NHS as a medical doctor. The appellant developed an acute depression with suicidal tendencies and the doctors recommended that the daughter should take her to the UK as loneliness was very much at the root of her mental health problems.

They made an application for the adult dependent relative visa which was refused after prolonged consideration by the authorities. The Home Office found that mental health problems could be treated by medication and care needs could be addressed by a paid carer in Ukraine. Nothing uncommon in this decision. The appellants disagreed and filed an appeal. There followed long months of waiting. The appellant’s condition continued to deteriorate. After the appeal was heard and the decision was reserved, she had a nervous breakdown and tried to commit a suicide. The next day after, the war broke out.

The uncommon turn of events was that the applicant travelled to the UK under the newly formed Ukraine family scheme and by the time the decision dismissing her appeal was made by the First-tier tribunal, she was already in the UK.

When the case was presented to the Upper Tribunal (IAC) the questions to be addressed were – could the appeal be pursued if the appellant was in the UK? Was the chain of events postdating the hearing in the First-tier tribunal indicative of the appellant’s needs at the time of application? Do psychological needs count in the same way as physical needs?

The Upper Tribunal answered in the affirmative and the Home Office reviewed their own decision in the light of the guidance in the judgment and decided to issue the visa.

A new problem arose out of the blue as a complete surprise to all participants: the visa could not be issued in the UK. Issuing the visa in Kyiv was not an option either because of the war in Ukraine. So why not in Paris?

The lawyers acting for the appellant thought the Home Office had completely forgotten the crux of the matter: “…the appellant was unable to live independently. She was certainly unable to go to Paris on her own. Her daughter had to take time off from her super busy NHS job and travel to Paris with her mother in order to get a stamp in the passport. How long would they have to stay in Paris? Would the daughter have to take an open leave from work? How can they book a return ticket if they don’t know how long they will have to stay?”

Helena Sheizon writes in her blog post: “At this stage, I suggested that the client should contact their MP. After all, the whole scenario sounded like a poor joke. Why would someone have to travel from Cambridge to Paris to get a UK visa stamp in their Ukrainian passport? Perhaps the passport could be stamped somewhere nearer home?” And what about carbon footprint, she goes on. “Two people will have to travel a distance over 300 miles and back for a stamp? Are we sure we are not in a Kafka novel? Is global warming no more a concern? Would cancer patients understand that the doctor has to travel abroad to collect a stamp?”

Neither the immigration lawyers nor the local Member of Parliament could override the machine designed to protect the integrity of the immigration system, part of which is to endorse the adult dependent relative visa stamp outside borders of the UK.

If there is common sense to it, it is deeply shrouded in bureaucratic mystery. In the meantime, the flights will be booked and hotel reserved, cancer patients will wait for their doctor to return from her trip, and the stamp will be endorsed no matter what.

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