The Tragic Case Of Grandmother Sent Back To Singapore With £12 In Her Pocket banner


The Tragic Case Of Grandmother Sent Back To Singapore With £12 In Her Pocket

  • Posted on

Imagine being bundled into a van, taken to the airport and placed on a flight to your home country. You have no opportunity to contact your Immigration lawyer, collect fresh clothes and have, at best, around £12 in your pocket.

You are also being separated from your husband of 27 years, who is unwell, your two adult sons and a granddaughter, who you have been only allowed to say goodbye to via a quick phone call.

This may sound like a scenario played out in some barbaric, third-world nation. But no, this happened last Saturday, to Singaporean grandmother, Irene Clennell, who had repeatedly been turned down for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) because she spent long periods of time in Singapore, looking after her sick, elderly parents.

Irene Clennell’s story

According to Li Goh-Piper, a Kent-based supporter who is running a petition calling for Mrs. Clennell’s return to the UK, the mother-of-two arrived in Britain in 1988 and married two years later. The couple moved to Singapore in 1992 and just before this, Mrs. Clennell was granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Her husband returned to Britain with their two boys in 1998 while she remained in Singapore to care for her mother.

Because of her absence from the UK of more than two years, Mrs. Clennell’s ILR lapsed. She came to the UK for brief periods before remaining permanently in the country between 2003 and January 2005. During this time, she claims to have made various attempts to secure leave to remain however her applications were all rejected.

According to the BBC, Mrs. Clennell was refused entry at a British airport in 2007. She made another application to the British High Commission in Singapore in 2012. Mrs. Goh-Piper says this was rejected on the basis that Mrs. Clennell did not provide proof of contact with her family.

After entering the UK in 2013, further applications for ILR were rejected. She never applied for British Citizenship as Singapore does not recognise dual nationality and she wanted to retain her rights to live in a government flat while residing there.

The rules around ILR and absences from the UK

Under the SET 09 Returning Residence guidance notes, to qualify to enter the United Kingdom as a returning resident, you must:

  • have had indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom when you last left
  • have not been away from the United Kingdom for more than two years
  • not have received assistance from public funds towards the cost of leaving the United Kingdom
  • now seek admission for the purpose of settlement

Anyone who does not meet the above criteria will normally be refused entry to the UK.

There are exceptions to this rule, set out in Paragraph 19 of the Immigration Rules. These include people with ILR who have joined their spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner on an overseas posting, and the spouse or partner is:

  • a member of the armed forces; or
  • a diplomat
  • a Department for International Trade or Home Office employee

According to the guidance, entry clearance officers consider the following factors for those who do not fall into the above categories but have been outside of the UK for more than two years:

  • how long the person originally lived in the UK
  • the length of time they have been outside the UK
  • the reason for the delay beyond the two years - was it through their own wish or no fault of their own (for example, having to care for a sick or elderly relative)?
  • why they left and why they wish to come back to the UK
  • the nature of the family ties in the UK
  • how much contact with family ties did the person have while absent?
  • do they have a home in the UK and, if admitted, would they remain and live there?

The guidance then goes on to say that, “the longer a person has been absent from Britain, the more difficult it will be for them to qualify for admission under this provision. The longer the previous residence in the UK, the stronger the case for consideration, provided that there had not been a break in residence which extended over a number of years”.

How many of these factors, which clearly applied to Mrs Clennell were considered by Immigration officials on the numerous times she applied for entry, and the weight given to those is unknown.

What we do know is that the current UK government seems hell-bent on reducing Immigration numbers, with little regard to the families and individual lives it destroys in the process. Tom Peck put it perfectly in today’s Independent when he said, “…this is a government that certainly gives off no sense of having any more important goal than reducing Immigration numbers. It’s seven years since David Cameron, then leader of the opposition said net Immigration should be kept to the ‘tens of thousands,’ a genie that stubbornly refuses to be sent back into the bottle. Millions of Brexit voters will not be happy until that number is reached, and they are the only voters this government shows any desire to placate. Clennell is at least one down, a quarter of a million to go”.

In summary

This case should act as a warning to non-EEA nationals who have ILR, who through choice or unavoidable circumstances, are required to be absent from Britain for more than two years. Seeking the best advice possible from an experienced Immigration solicitor could prevent you from becoming another sad news story and joining the long list of Theresa May created “Skype families.”

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London. Our immigration team dealing with ILR comprises of Smit Kumar, Hans Sok Appadu, and Maryem Ahmed, all of whom would be happy to talk to you about being absent from the UK if you have ILR status.

By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.

    Get in touch

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.