The best and brightest welcome? Home Office asks Canary Wharf couple to move to China
The Home Office told a British IT expert from Canary Wharf that he would have to move to China and live with his doctoral student girlfriend’s family in Shanghai, after her visa application was rejected.
Robert Evans, 30, from Aberdeen met his girlfriend, Lisa Li, 31, from Shanghai, when he was studying for a masters in computer science at the University of Edinburgh eight years ago.
Today, Li is completing a doctorate at the University of York, while Evans is vice president of Citi at Canary Wharf.
However, the couple’s future in the UK is now up in the air, after the Home Office rejected Li’s application for an ‘unmarried partner’ visa, after a long eight-month wait, on the grounds that the couple do not live together – even after Li’s father, a factory owner in the Chinese city of Wenzhou, put down a deposit for the couple to buy an apartment together in Canary Wharf.
“The Best and the Brightest”
The decision comes after UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said the UK would be ‘ready to welcome the world’s best and brightest’ as she set out her vision for the policy. UK post-Brexit immigration.
After Evans appealed the decision, on the grounds that it would deprive him of his right to family life under the European Convention on Human Rights, the Home Office suggested Evans simply move out in China and to live with her partner’s family.
The recommendation comes as non-Chinese nationals living in the UK remain banned from China, due to Covid-19.
Now Li just hopes to renew her student visa. Speaking to City AM, the Home Office said Li should be able to stay in the country while she makes her appeal. However, Evans said the appeals process is now hampering Li’s efforts to renew his student visa.
The dilemma comes as Li’s original student visa has now expired, meaning she risks becoming an ‘overstayer’ if she withdraws her appeal against the Interior Ministry’s decision.
The expiration of Li’s student visa came as the couple waited eight months for a response from the Interior Ministry, completing a process that was expected to take just eight weeks.
Talk to AM City., Evans said withdrawing the appeal would also jeopardize Li’s eligibility for indefinite leave, which would require him to legally reside in the UK for a continuous period of ten years. To date, Li has lived in Britain for eight years continuously.
The bureaucratic nightmare comes as the couple have already paid thousands of pounds in fees to the Home Office. The process of applying for a new student visa will cost thousands of pounds more, Evans said.
“We believe we have been treated very unreasonably by the Home Office, and paying them more would be infuriating to say the least,” Evans told City AM. “If the rules are against you, there’s nothing you can do about it.”