An Australian today said a “bureaucratic nightmare” had left him facing deportation from the UK months before his wedding to his British fiancée.
Husband-to-be fights deportation threat months before wedding to British fiancée
James Geale, 36, says he has lived legally here for almost 10 years but is now fighting to stay in the country after the Home Office rejected his application for indefinite leave to remain because of late paperwork - writes standard.co.uk.
After last month’s rejection letter lawyers advised Mr Geale and fiancée Jennifer Sutton, who had been planning to tie the knot in France in August, to marry immediately.
But the couple, who became engaged in May after meeting on Tinder three and a half years ago, were knocked back at the register office because the Home Office still has Mr Geale’s passport.
Mr Geale, a joiner who has worked on high-end office projects in Mayfair and the City, had been living in the UK on an ancestry visa as his grandfather was born in Manchester.
'Bureaucratic hell': James Geale and Jennifer Sutton
Now he has been ordered to report to immigration officials on January 16, when he fears he will be deported for “overstaying” his residency.
He said: “I feel a bit betrayed. I’ve paid my taxes for 10 years, I’ve done everything right, I’ve got a home, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong apart from filing a piece of paper a month late. Now my whole life has been turned upside down and they’re kicking me out of the country.
“The Home Office are so difficult, they’ve got so many different departments and they don’t talk to each other.”
Mr Geale filed his application for indefinite leave to remain on August 10 — 29 days after his July 12 deadline. The “grace period” for late applications was reduced from 28 days to 14 days in November 2016.
Ms Sutton, 36, development director for social enterprise Fashion Enter, said the late application was “just a human error”. “He genuinely got the date wrong. It’s quite a daunting letter, it says you can’t work and you’ve got to leave the country.
“We just cannot communicate with the Home Office and time is running out. It’s really scary. He can’t work now, we’re in a really difficult situation.
“It really is a bureaucratic nightmare. It needs someone with common sense to see he is being punished for something just not worth that punishment.
“James has legally lived here, paid his taxes, and we are genuinely in love but have now found ourselves in an impossible situation.”
The couple have lived together for 18 months and are joint mortgage-holders on a house in South Norwood.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Mr Geale’s application was refused as he failed to submit his application within the advised timeframe.”
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