Ask the UK Home Office to end the inhumane treatment of the Kelton family by the UKVI

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They hold a UK visa- so why is this British/American married couple still forced to remain on separate continents?

Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) says: “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Charles' rights to his family life, as a law-abiding British citisen, are again being tampered with-- and this is AFTER his wife was granter leave to enter the UK.

Charles and Leah Kelton applied for a UK settlement visa in November 2016, and were finally granted the visa in May 2017 after an arduous journey fraught with hold-ups by the UKVI. But when the visa vignette was affixed to Leah's passport with the wrong date stamped by the UKVI, they swiftly contacted the UKVI's telephone service to alert them to their mistake so that it might be rectified before the couple were obligated to be in the UK for the start of Charles' MSc course in mid-Sept.

However, despite having been granted her visa, Leah is still unable to enter the UK due to UKVI's lack of response. It has now been 12 weeks since reaching out to UKVI to rectify their mistake, and the couple are STILL waiting for any word on moving forward.

Meanwhile, Charles had to return to the UK without his wife in mid-Sept. On top of being prevented from living in marriage together, or for this devoted couple to even see one another, the situation further prevents Leah from adequately working her business, or indeed making any plans toward anything, as they have no indication of when UKVI will finish their case so she can be reunited with her husband. Due to making arrangements for their move when they started the visa journey last year, she is effectively left homeless as well as husband-less, relying on the good graces of family and friends as they wait indefinitely for UKVI to rectify her vignette so that they might finally be reunited and carry on with their lives. They have lived in this especially suspended state for nearly 3 months now, with a further 9 months of suspense awaiting the visa process prior to this.

The couple are put in extreme distress as the hold up to their entire lives stretches on and they are parted without end, to the point of resulting health issues from the anxiety, effects on Charles' important coursework, and the resulting financial trauma of having to stand up under separate expenses on separate continents while gainful employment must be put on hold. And they still have been given no timeline for when the UKVI might fix their mistake and finish this nearly year-long visa journey. The UKVI's practices are causing severe mental torture, and emotional and financial trauma for this couple. All the more as they continue to make no assurances that they even know they have put this family in such a position by their negligence. The smallest bit of personal contact would go a LONG way for people embroiled in such uncertainty brought on by UKVI's tardy practices.

And this is not the first time in this process that a UKVI mistake has cost the Kelton family dearly. 

After spending the first 3 years of their marriage living in the US. Charles and Leah Kelton decided to move to the UK to be closer to Charles' chronically unwell and aging mother when he was accepted onto an MSc degree course in Oxford. The couple carefully saved up to meet the financial requirements for Leah's visa while Charles is studying, and submitted their application while obligated to be parted from each other by an ocean for what was supposed to take 12 weeks only. They have now been forced to spend about 5 of the last 12 months apart- and still counting.

UK Visas & Immigration refused Leah's application in February 2017, despite the couple meeting all of the outlined requirements. At this time, Charles was deep into the first year of his master's course in the UK, and Leah had their life in the US packed up and was poised ready to join her husband for their new life. UKVI not only did not thoroughly investigate their application before making the refusal, but they sent the official decision letter to the Keltons in ACTUAL tatters. Ripped in two, crumpled and blackened so that the reasons for the negative decision couldn't even be read. The envelope it arrived in containing all of the other documents, however, was perfectly intact. So someone chose to put the decision letter into the return envelope in that condition. The Keltons were scandalized that this service they had paid so much to receive was rendered to them in this way, and still with no explanation or apology for the additional distress caused them.

UKVI provides no way to communicate with its caseworkers to work out such mistakes, so the Keltons' only recourse was to appeal this original decision- a process which it is rumored can take upwards of nine months. They knew they met all of the requirements outlined by UKVI for this visa, and their fee could not be returned to them even when UKVI were clearly mistaken. So, they were forced to be separated longer, with no sense for what was going to happen, or when they might know, and no one to speak to about the appalling service they had received. 

Thankfully, upon re-evaluation, and some advocacy from Charles' local MP in Buckinghamshire, the Rt Hon John Bercow, the UKVI overturned their original decision and granted Leah her visa in May 2017. By this time, Charles finished his first year of his studies and returned to the states to be with his wife where they waited out the processing with members of her family and friends, and found short-term work for the summer, including Leah continuing to conduct her business with a definite timeline to book work in.

The Keltons sent Leah's passport to the UK for the visa vignette to be affixed to it, and explained to the caseworker emailing them that they had to return to the UK between the end of Aug-middle of Sept, due to having found work in the US for the summer, but needing to be back for Charles' course to start up again mid-Sept. After a long 10 week wait for UKVI to place the visa vignette in Leah's passport, a passport UKVI misplaced for nearly a month, they finally stamped it on 17 July 2017. They then sat on her passport for 11 days, finally putting it in the post to her on 28 July 2017. The post then took 10 days to arrive to the Keltons, putting it in their hands 7 Aug 2017. At this point they discovered that the vignette expiration would be 16 Aug 2017- two weeks before the time they could leave their summer work commitments and only 7 days from the day they finally received it back. UKVI made no warning to them that they would only have a week, instead of the 30 days promised, to tie up every loose end in their US lives and make their international move. And they had many work commitments in those last two weeks of August. 

So, on the very day they received the passport back with the unusable vignette due to UKVI's tardiness and lack of communication, they contacted UKVI's answering service, incurring MORE personal fees because there is no way to talk with anyone to whom you have paid a large fee to render this visa service without paying for the privilege, and they applied for a vignette transfer, incurring another few hundred dollars despite the mistake being the UKVI's. However, when they heard back from the answer services, they were told to cancel the vignette transfer and that their case would be escalated to the home office. 12 weeks later (as of 30 Oct 2017), nothing has yet been done. UKVI makes no contact and communicates NO timelines for the couple to be able to make plans by. This husband and wife, who were granted their visa 5 months ago, still have no idea when they will see one another again, let alone be able to start their life together once more. There is no one held accountable for the mistakes made, no compensation for the damage done.

This is inhumane treatment and the UKVI's inefficient work practices are causing untold distress to many more families than just the Keltons as they try to hold their lives together in the uncertainty. While we understand that UKVI must have a very heavy workload, we the people feel it it is unacceptable to conduct this service in such a way that causes families so much grief.

We believe the Keltons are experiencing a breach of their human rights by being kept apart by the Home Office's negligence, and we petition the UK home office to rectify this mistake on Leah Kelton's vignette stamp as a matter of priority. We ask Home Secretary Amber Rudd to see to it that UKVI prioritizes fixing their mistake to finish their visa process by the end of October, so that this couple can finally be reunited and try to rebuild their lives.

We also petition the home office to implement better practices for communication between the UKVI and their clients in future cases to spare anyone else from facing this mental torture, health-threatening anxiety, damage to marriages, trauma to families, and ridiculous financial burden to honest, hard-working, everyday people just trying to take care of their families...

How ridiculous for a family to have come through such a trial, only to finally be granted the visa, but due to an unresponsive UKVI, unable to use it!

Thank you so much for your attention this matter.

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