The Home Office has issued an apology to a 90-year-old man, an American citizen, after previously denying him a spousal visa. The Home Office now states that there was never any need for Albert Dolbec to apply for leave to remain.
Mr Dolbec, from Stanford, Connecticut, has been married to 84-year-old Dawn Dolbec, a British citizen, for 25 years. Mr Dolbec has lived in the UK on and off since the 1960s, but in 2016 moved with Mrs Dolbec to the UK to be closer to their family. Mr Dolbec applied for a spousal visa, but this was denied at the end of 2017, and his appeal was rejected in November of last year.
The Home Office had asked Mr Dolbec, who according to his family suffers from diabetes, arthritis, and has diminished short term memory, to return to the US to seek a visa in the UK while resident there.
However, the Home Office has this month written to Mr Dolbec, informing him that it was a mistake and that his indefinite leave to remain, granted in the 1990s, had never been revoked. The Home Office will refund Mr Dolbec £1,804 spent on visa application fees, but his family told the Guardian that they are considering suing the Home Office for the cost of their legal fees, which totalled approximately £5,000.
His step-daughter also expressed her concern for those families without the educational and financial privilege of her family, saying that “they have to accept wrong Home Office decisions and see their families destroyed as a result.”
An internal review of settlement visa applications for professional immigrants last year found that it is not uncommon for the Home Office to make mistakes. 1,697 cases were analysed, and 31 gave cause for concern, of which 12 were overturned immediately.
While the apology of the Home Office and recognition of the mistake is sure to be a welcome relief for Mr Dolbec, it has clearly been a very trying experience for both the elderly man and his family.
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