“Catch 22” visa system is “impossible to satisfy”

Up until July 2012, elderly relatives of British citizens could come to live in the UK as long as they were over 65 and not a drain on the state. But the new Adult Dependent Relatives rule means it is all but impossible to qualify.  Now, elderly relatives can only come to the UK if they are unable to do everyday tasks such as dressing and washing themselves. And they must prove that the care they need is unavailable or unaffordable in their own country.

A frail 92-year-old widow is to be deported back to her native South Africa after immigration authorities refused to allow her to remain in the UK.Senior immigration officials told Myrtle Cothill she must board a flight at Heathrow Airport next Tuesday, despite entering an appeal, which highlighted her poor health. Mrs Cothill moved to Britain to live with her 66-year-old daughter Mary Wills who now acts as her carer, helping her cope with the crippling effects of an enlarged heart and failing vision. She has no remaining relatives in South Africa.

James Davies, Mrs Cothill’s immigration adviser, said the “loathsome” rules drawn up by the Home Office mean virtually no one qualifies. Relatives based in the UK must show they have enough money to care for dependents for five years, but in almost all cases such a sum of money could pay for private care in the dependent’s own country. “This is a Catch 22,” added Mr Davies.  “The rule works for Afghans and Americans, but not much in between.”

Mrs Cothill arrived in Britain in 2014 and has lived with Mary in Poole, Dorset ever since,the Western Daily Press reported.Her fight to remain in the UK began at a “first-tier” immigration tribunal. That hearing found Cothill had “obtained entry to the United Kingdom by deception, and that she and her daughter arranged their affairs with the deliberate intention of making her removal difficult.” Mary Wills told the Guardian that more recent discussions with Home Office officials proved fruitless. She said: “We didn’t really get a chance to talk at the last meeting, they [home office officials] just went on and on. When we said where would my mother go when she got to Johannesburg, they said she could go to the Red Cross and get help. My mother is in a terrible state. She is just shaking and shaking.It is so cruel. We don’t know what to do.” On Tuesday, Mrs Cothill received final word of her deportation in a letter that included details of her Virgin Atlantic flight, scheduled to depart next week.

People are beginning to rally against the decision, with a Change.org petition having reached 50,000 signatures on Thursday.

James Davies, Mrs Cothill’s immigration adviser at the International Care Network, said: “Myrtle does not have close family members in South Africa willing and or able to look after her, and is dependent on both the emotional and physical care of her daughter in the UK.

“To take a decision to remove her is contrary to every human instinct or duty to care for our elders.”

Please contact us on 020 3695 4626 for more information on how to join family or remain with family.

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