A British court has reversed course on a U.K. Border Agency ruling that said Maria Summers's marriage to a British citizen wasn't genuine.
But the First-Tier Tribunal decision says Summers still can't stay in the country to fulfil her long-held retirement plans and help care for her terminally ill mother-in-law.
The appeal decision says Summers falls less than $2,000 short of the minimum gross income requirement to stay in England and says she didn't provide the right documentation to verify her finances.
Summers disputes this and says the reasons for her latest rejection have left her feeling frustrated and unwelcome in the country.
Summers plans to appeal the latest decision, but will have to return to Canada while the case is being resolved. A spokesman for the British Home Office said they do not comment on individual cases.
The Canadian woman's case garnered international attention in April when it was revealed that the U.K. Border Agency was rejecting her long-term visa application. In its decision, the agency expressed doubts that Summers' 45-year marriage to David Summers was genuine or long-term, despite the fact that the couple have an adult son.
The couple appealed the agency's decision, and the latest court ruling "conceded" the issue in light of supporting letters and photographs they provided. But Maria Summers said the reversal offers scant comfort.
"They've taken back the part about our relationship, they don't seem to be harping on that any more, so now there's something different for them to harp on," she said in a telephone interview.
The appeal ruling, handed down by Judge A.L.B. Nixon, focused instead on the couple's finances, ultimately ruling that their gross income fell about $1,900 short of the $35,400 minimum.
The ruling also asserted that the couple's savings were $1,430 shy of government requirements and that they had not provided necessary bank statements to verify their income.
The financial requirements under the rules are in place not only to ensure that an immigrant to the U.K. would be maintained at a level without the need to turn to public funds but also to ensure consistency of approach, Nixon's ruling reads.
"It would be unjust for me to treat this appellant more favourably than other applicants in the absence of any evidence to persuade me otherwise."
The Ottawa woman contests the finding, saying she provided T4 slips as well as a signed letter from the company where she works as an optical consultant.
Summers believes the ruling did not take her employer's letter into account, saying the combination of her Canadian pension income and her salary put her well over the minimum gross income threshold. Her husband's pension income and salary as a recently elected Hereford city counsellor, she said, also can't be discounted.
Similarly, Summers feels that the couple's full ownership of their home is getting short-shrift in the court's eyes.
"We watch every day on the news in England people coming in,...going on welfare and benefits," she said. "We're not asking for anything. I just want to live there."
If upheld, Summers said the ruling would mean that her 95-year-old mother-in-law would spend her final months in respite care rather than in a family home, since her condition is too much for one person to manage.
Summers herself will likely await the next decision from Canada, since British authorities have only given her permission to remain in the country until late August.
Summers says she hopes the appeal goes her way, but adds the experience has left her feeling conflicted about the country she hoped to call home.
"I'm getting to the point now where I'm not even sure I want to be there anymore," she said. "I don't feel terribly welcome."
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