Gay American man could be sent back to the US despite being married to a UK citizen
A man from North Carolina in the US could be at risk of having to leave the UK and return to the States, despite the fact that he is married to a UK citizen.
Brian Page had his latest appeal to the UK Home Office for an extension of his visa refused earlier this month, and was told that he must either leave the UK within 14 days, or apply for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, the next stage of the process.
However, he has told PinkNews that he and his husband have been “cleaned out” by the legal fees up until now, having already spent over £16,000 on the application. They are now appealing to the public for help to cover the legal costs of their appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
Their GoFundMe page is here. If they are granted permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal, they expect the legal fees to cost in the region of £1,500-£3,000.
Speaking to PinkNews, Brian said that they had considered returning to the US – however, this process would also require a lawyer and extensive legal fees.
Speaking about the situation, Brian told PinkNews that he would be heartbroken if they were separated.
“When Ben’s mother passed away, he went into a deep, deep depression and it really scared me. We are both suffering from mental health issues and are both on anti-depressants, because our lives are on hold.
“We don’t know where we’re going to be in a few months time. I’m afraid to leave Ben because I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Brian and Ben’s story began in 2012 when they met on a train in London when Brian was visiting the UK. They ended up talking and decided to stay in touch.
They got married two years later in New York after spending a period of time living together in the US.
However, tragedy hit the couple when, shortly after they got married, they found out that Ben’s mother – who was still living in the UK – was terminally ill.
They returned to the UK, with Brian on a six month visa, to spend her final months with her.
As his six-month visa came to a close, Brian’s mother-in-law’s condition was continuing to deteriorate. He then applied for an extension to the visa, which was ultimately rejected.
They now say they have been fighting the UK government to allow Brian to stay in the UK for a number of years.
They have now applied for permission to appeal their case to the Upper Tribunal, however if they are granted permission, they do not have the money to pay for legal representation.
They also estimate that, if they were to attempt to return to the US, legal fees there could cost up to $15,000. Ben’s position in the country is currently uncertain and would require a lawyer to clear it up, as when they were last living in the US, he was told that his husband couldn’t sponsor him to work as marriage equality was not yet a reality in North Carolina, meaning their marriage was not recognised there.
Instead, he was granted an opportunity to stay and wait for his case to be seen by a judge. However, before he had the chance to have his case adjudicated, his mother became ill, forcing the couple to move to the UK.
As his immigration process was never completed, he was subsequently denied an ESTA.
Ben says that he never stayed in the US illegally, but doesn’t currently have the funds to hire a lawyer in the US to clear his position in the country.
The couple now say that they are in a bind – they cannot return to the US together because of the uncertainty surrounding Ben’s position in the country. They cannot stay in the UK together, as Brian’s applications to remain have been rejected.
In the most recent rejection letter, which was seen by PinkNews, the judge suggested the couple could relocate to a third country, and gave Canada as an example, while trying to settle their immigration dispute.
The rejection letter also says that during the case, it was put to Brian that he could “return to the USA to apply for entry clearance to re-enter the UK as a spouse.”
Brian says that if he were to do this, the process could take up to two years.
Brian said that he was worried about leaving Ben alone in the UK as he suffers from depression and anxiety.
“It really scares me. I’m really scared right now about what the next couple of months are going to be like,” he added.