Home Office admits blunder that stopped woman coming to live with her husband in Northampton

Margaret Elliott will now be able to travel to Northampton to live with her family after the Home Office admitted a blunder on her immigration form.
Margaret Elliott will now be able to travel to Northampton to live with her family after the Home Office admitted a blunder on her immigration form.

A woman who feared being separated from her husband in Northampton for 18 months when the Home Office misread her immigration application is set to be reunited following an appeal by the Chronicle and Echo.

Margaret Elliot and her husband Ralph, a business lecturer at Northampton College who has mostly lived in England since turning 18, have spent the best part of the past year apart because of the mix-up.

The couple, who have two children, both lived in Cornwall between 2012 and 2016 - their youngest was also born in the UK.

Ralph's father's health started to deteriorate in 2016, they travelled to their native Bolivia to look after him.

Last year Ralph, having secured a job at Northampton College, returned to the UK, while Margaret stayed in the capital of Bolivia, La Paz.

But when Margaret, 32, applied for a settlement visa to join her husband in January this year - it was rejected 12 weeks later by the Home Office, even though she clearly met the criteria.

The decision left Margaret facing an 18-month wait for an appeal to go through unless she could convince the Home office to overturn the ruling.

“We couldn’t understand,” she said.

“We never claimed benefits in the UK, my husband earns well above the legal requirements.

“It just seemed they weren’t applying the rules.”

As a last resort, Margaret got in touch with the Chron to try and rectify the situation.

“Ralph has barely seen his daughter for four weeks or more in the past year - it is beyond absurd,” she said on Tuesday.

"We aren’t asking for any exemption - we just want the Home office to follow their own guidance.”

The visa application was turned down on the basis the family could not prove Ralph earned more than £18,600 a year - despite the fact Margaret had provided them with documents proving he did.

The couple had also received a lump sum inheritance that should have counted towards their application.

But the Home Office has now agreed to overturn its decision following a review after the Chron made enquiries.

A spokesman for the department said: “Following further representations the decision to refuse Ms Elliot’s visa has been overturned.

“Ms Elliot has been contacted to inform her of the decision and to advise her on next steps.”