Ely businessman slams “unfair” visa system which has left his wife of 14 years stranded in China

Frank Dutton and Jade Gao.

Frank Dutton and Jade Gao. - Credit: Archant

A businessman has spoken of his “nightmare” trying to get his Chinese wife of 14 years a visa to live with him in England.

Frank Dutton, of Ely, met his wife Jade Gao in Shanghai 17 years ago while he was working in the export section of a British company.

They married three years later and have lived in Shanghai and Australia since.

Mr Dutton has taken up a role in Michell Instruments at Lancaster Way Business Park but his wife, a fluent English speaker, is stuck in China.

He said: “Jade is not a mail order bride; we have been married 14 years. I have a good well paid job, we have property in China, we have a proven relationship, we have lived in Australia, but none of this is taken into account.

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“I have seen my wife for a total of five weeks in the last seven months.

“It’s an absolutely ridiculous situation. It’s not only me but other people married to foreign nationals who are being treated unfairly.

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“None of my family or friends understands it. You should not be penalised for marrying someone from another country.”

The couple’s ordeal started last April when Mrs Dutton applied to VFS Global, a company working in partnership with UK Visas and Immigration at the British Embassy in China to support people applying for visas, for a spouses’ visa.

Her application was declined - the Consulate General issued a rejection letter and kept the £900 spent on it.

In September, she applied for a family visa, which would allow her to come to the UK for up to a year. This was again rejected.

Mr Dutton said: “This application was supported with reference letters from the company I work for, including financial details proving I could support her and that she owned property in Shanghai as well as having her own money.

“It was again rejected. The rejection letter implied, wrongly, that my wife was a risk, she might overstay.

“This despite the fact she would not do this as it would jeopardise the future spouses’ visa.

“No interview was offered and VFS Global did nothing but take the papers - money was taken and of course not returned.”

However, an identical application submitted in December was accepted, meaning Mrs Dutton will be able to join her husband for the rest of the year. Then, they will have to go through the same progress again.

Mr Dutton has contacted his MP Sir Jim Paice but feels let down by his response.

He said: “Sir Jim Paice basically has been no help at all and I received a reply saying basically he could do nothing more.

“I pointed out to Sir Jim (and the consulate visa officers) that in the 15 years I spent in China and Australia I brought millions of pounds of export orders to the country and kept jobs in industry going.

“I pointed out that the system penalises those UK Citizens who live or have lived and worked overseas.

“Sir Jim no longer replies and I am at the end of my tether. I have kept quiet thus far but I know I am not the only ex-expat who is having these problems.

“As they cannot stop EU people from moving around the barriers are being raised to prevent other applications from non-EU citizens.

“I asked his opinion of the legality of the UK Government contravening EU Law. He has failed to respond to any e-mails and indeed took the party line that the foreign office is correct and has ignored me since.

“I pointed out he should be representing a constituent on why we have had to go through this eight month nightmare. Again he has ignored this and never responded.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of all visa applicants to follow the immigration rules and ensure that they submit the required documentation and evidence to support their application.

“We cannot grant applications which are incomplete or which are missing the necessary supporting evidence.”

Sir Jim Paice said: “I have had extensive correspondence with Mr Dutton about this issue. I have written to the UK Visa & Immigration Service twice on his behalf and counter-signed a complaint to the Ombudsman about the service he has received.

“I have made it clear to him that I do not have the power to overturn decisions made by the UKVI whatever my view of the decision; Mr Dutton has accepted that this is the case.

“Whilst I fully appreciate Mr Dutton’s frustration at this situation, I have always been clear that there is a limit to what an MP can do in cases like this and that he would be best placed to take legal advice.

“As I am not a lawyer, I am afraid I am unable to comment on the question of legality, or otherwise, that Mr Dutton mentions.

“I did, however, inform Mr Dutton that when a re-application is made, an earlier refusal will not prejudice the subsequent application, so long as the initial reasons for refusal are thoroughly addressed.

“This has obviously proved to be the case, and I was pleased to hear that Mrs Dutton has now been granted a visa to allow her to live in the UK with her husband.”

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