The casual cruelty and incompetence of the UK Home Office: a widowed Dutch father’s story

Stock image. Image by Image by Franz P. Sauerteig from Pixabay

We read this on Twitter and felt people beyond the Twittersphere should know how people are treated by the Home Office and the monumental challenges faced by anyone legitimately challenging the life-changing decisions made seemingly on a whim by this incompetent and impenetrable department of government under Suella Braverman.

Bobby Stuijfzand(the author) was very happy for us to reproduce his thread, which is unedited.

I am a dutch, widowed parent, of a British child. I live in the UK on a parent visa and my daughter is happily growing up here, near my late wife’s family and our friends. Last week the UK Home office cancelled my right to be here. In error.

A thread to put the record straight.

When I lost my wife we were living Switzerland. A fantastic life, but as single parent and without family it no longer felt the right place to raise my daughter. I weighed my options – go back to my native NL, or return to the UK where I had lived 5 years and had lots of ties.

A brilliant job came up in the UK. And it was close to my wife’s family – my daughter’s aunt, uncle, grandad, cousins – all were here. Great for my daughter. Living in the UK also meant living closer to lots of friends. Things were coming together.

This was post Brexit. It meant that I needed a visa to come to the UK.

My job offered to act as a sponsor. Some paperwork and a lot of box packing later I was back in the UK after a 3 year absence, as a skilled worker and ready to start again.

Things were going well. Then I learned about a parent visa. Like a spousal visa, if you have a British child and are their primary carer, it is possible to to live and work in the UK so you can raise them here.

It made more sense. I love my job (I still work there!). But I’m here with my daughter. Changing my job (for whatever reason) shouldn’t uproot her life because of visa rules. So I swapped my work visa for a parent visa, and was granted it.

My employer subsequently stopped the sponsorship of my visa. That was just procedure. I didn’t need it anymore: as a parent I had a right to work for them regardless – I didn’t need their sponsorship.

Fast forward to this week. Home Office has now reviewed the sponsorship withdrawal. They decided that without sponsorship and since they also believe – incorrectly – I no longer work for my company I no longer satisfy the criteria to be here.

They told me I now need to leave the country within two months time. If you ever needed a reason to ruin someone’s perfectly fine Friday off – this one works. Exceptionally well. What’s more, they curtailed my *parent* visa to this new date.

Not the skilled worker visa. The parent visa. The one that requires no sponsorship to begin with. You’d think 2+2 could be added together. If they can see I’m here on family grounds, surely a bell rings saying I don’t need sponsorship and the reason to curtail my visa is moot?

According to HO I have two months this summer to pack up, leave my job, find my daughter a new school in the Netherlands and cross the North Sea whence I came. Let’s not even mention about how my daughter’s Dutch has not improved quite so well as her English.

Part of me is almost tempted to take them up on the offer. If they want to play that game, fine. After all – I’m lucky being Dutch. NL isn’t such a bad place. But my daughter is settled here, and so am I. I love our life here. Could do without the Home Office though.

The fun really starts when you want to address the error. You can’t appeal to these decisions. But you can request a correction of an error. To understand how, you are directed to a 94 page guidance document for case workers from the Home Office.

There is no obvious address or contact to direct your error correction request to. It just says – email the relevant team – without any indication who that might be.

Sent the email – have not even received a confirmation of receipt. If it’s not received – the decision remains unchanged.

If you send your request more than 2 weeks + 2 days after the communication was sent (and believe me, post has taken longer to arrive) – bad luck. You can go and uproot your life.

There is no guarantee they will correct their decision either. If you don’t do it right the first time, as a rule they won’t consider a second correction request – bad luck.

Look, as much as it baffles me the visa systems are obviously not as linked as they should be, I do appreciate human errors can be made. But to make it so difficult and ambiguous to rectify an error. It’s so incredibly unnecessary. I don’t even know if someone will read my email.

I’m not posting this for pity. What I am posting this for is to make sure this plays out in the public eye. If the decision is not favourable I want the public track record to show how stupid this situation is.

I’m going to have a beer tonight and try not to think about it. But I also know there’ll be plenty of moments this weekend that I look at my daughter and get a nasty feeling in my stomach that we are – currently – supposed to uproot our lives for no true reason.

It’s just so stupidly unnecessary.

I really am touched by the overwhelming support and the generous advice given here [Twitter]. So grateful this is gaining visibility. I am logging off to find some distraction and friends, so apologies if I don’t reply immediately but know all your support and thoughts are appreciated.