A British-American family have been forced to separate across the Atlantic after the Home Office made an error in the interpretation of their own rules. The family, who have two British Children and elderly relatives in the UK, have been forced to separate while they wait for the outcome of their appeal. The ordeal has cost the family £45,000 so far and resulted in the loss of their main source of income.

Husband Rajesh Westerberg is an American citizen married to a British national, Nicola Percy. The couple have two children who hold British passports. Westerberg had previously held indefinite leave to remain status in the UK for eight years from 2004. He lost this status after spending 28 days longer outside the UK than the two year period permitted under ILR rules.

The couple met in 2000 and had their first child in 2006. In 2009, after having lived in the UK for 11 years, the couple moved to the United States with their two children. In order to retain his ILR status in the UK, the family had to return to the UK every year. When this became too costly, they let his ILR status lapse.

He returned to the UK in 2017 on a tourist visa and received an offer of work. Under UK visa law, he applied to change his visa to a Tier 2 visa sponsored by his employer. The family were keen to put down roots in the UK in order to care for wife Percy’s elderly relatives.

In order to meet the conditions of the visa, the family were forced to enrol the children in school and sign a 12-month lease on a family home. After his visa was rejected for the second time, Westerberg was forced to return to the United States in order to start working again.

What is most worrying about this story is that it is all too familiar for many people. In appealing the decision, the Home Office admitted that they had made a mistake in their interpretation of the law. Despite admitting that they were wrong, the Home Office refused to overturn the decision and grant Westerberg the visa that would allow him to start working and join his family in the UK. The appeals process can take an average of 48 weeks and costs at least £2,300.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned, please get in touch with our expert immigration team.