I am from the US, but have lived in the UK since 2008, and became a naturalised citizen in 2014. I am also a divorced father of two lovely children, who live in the US with their mother. In the past couple of years, my ex-wife’s mother has become increasingly ill, and requires care. Since she lives in Russia, it is very difficult to arrange any care, as family members generally provide care for their elders. The children’s mother needed to return to Russia to provide this care, so we decided that the only avenue available to us was for the children to come live with me in London. We spent two solid years preparing for this move, including following various instructions set out by my lawyers, in order to transfer legal custody over to me. We also assembled a mountain of evidence to verify our situation.

In May, we applied to the Home Office for resident permits for the children, on the basis that I would be the sole carer, and in consideration of “compelling family or other considerations” as per S297(i)(f) of the Immigration Rules. In June, their applications were rejected, throwing our entire plan into chaos. Despite having provided volumes of evidence, including doctor’s certification of the illness, my own income and housing situation, and written testimonials, the only response was that the officer was “not satisfied that there are serious and compelling family or other considerations which make your exclusion undesirable and that suitable arrangements have been made for your care”. (The latter point is absurd, as we secured places in a good school, and my remuneration is more than sufficient, as per the Home Office’s own requirements.)

We have since appealed this decision, but unfortunately have been told that this process could take up to a year. In the meantime, we had to give up their school places, and the children are staying with relatives in the US, while their mother travels back home to care for her ailing mother. This situation is unsustainable in the long term; however, we feel we have no other choice but to wait and hope that our appeal will be successful. In the meantime, their names have been placed on a list of failed visa applicants, which causes them to undergo extra scrutiny whenever they cross the UK border. This involved a 90-minute wait in Heathrow when they came for a visit in the summer. Not only are they not allowed to come live with their father, but they are treated as common criminals whenever they even try to visit me. It’s all very disheartening.