71 year old Thomas Podgoretsky has resided in the UK for 48 years on a permanent leave to remain visa. He has four British children and six British grandchildren, as well as three British ex-wives. The Home Office has given him 72 hours to prepare for his deportation to the USA, despite his having no living relatives there.
At issue is his failure to tick the correct box when he returned to the UK after he spent an unexpected, three-year stay in the USA following a stroke and two heart attacks. Because he had been away for more than two years, he should have re-entered the UK as a "returning resident" not as a "permanent resident."
This bureaucratic error, combined with another extended stay in the USA to stay with his mother while she died, constitute a breach of Podgoretsky's visa terms.
The musician and performer has spent his entire life's savings — earnings from a UK-based business that employed 26 people — appealing the process. He lost. The high court called the Home Office's decision "harsh" but said that it was technically legal.
The Home Office now argues that Thom spent three periods in the US which breached his resident status. While Thom agrees he was in the US for two long periods in the 1990s and early 2000s, caring for his mother until her death, he maintains he returned within the two-year period. Indeed, the Home Office had never before considered those trips a problem.
Thom sought to challenge the decision, but while a high court judge decided the Home Office decision was "harsh", he ruled that it could not be legally challenged. Given the judge's criticisms, however, Thom's lawyers asked the Home Office to reconsider. Their plea fell on deaf ears.
His case has been taken up by Truro & Falmouth MP Sarah Newton; a petition organised by family and friends has attracted more than 5,000 signatures; and local arts and musicians' groups are looking to raise funds to help him appeal. In particular they will try to overturn May's interpretation of what "family life" means to a UK pensioner. Watch this space…
Theresa May-hem strikes again!