A press photographer at a weekly paper is facing deportation from the country after a series of bureaucratic blunders.
Craig Colville, who works at the Denbighshire Free Press, could be forced to leave the UK because Home Secretary Theresa May has determined he is not a British citizen – despite him having a Welsh mother and English father and being born in the UK.
The photographer is now facing the possibility he may have to leave the country to continue life with his wife Crystal Levy, who he married last July and who is a Canadian citizen.
Their plight was highlighted on the front page of the Free Press this week and two further pages inside.
Said Craig: “My wife and I are extremely upset by how poorly the Home Office have treated our case. It should have been very straightforward as I am a British citizen.”
He met Crystal in 2006 when they were both working on a cruise ship and after a long-distance relationship, she moved to the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa in October 2010.
After they married last year, Crystal, 29, applied to the Home Office for “an extension of stay as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a permanent resident”.
But Home Secretary Theresa May refused the application, saying Crystal could not stay in the UK because 31-year-old Craig “does not hold settled status, is not a British citizen and is not a person with refugee leave/humanitarian protection”.
Craig, who was born in St Asaph, works in Mold, lived in Talacre for most of his life and has resided in Chester for just under a year, was staggered by the Home Office’s statement.
He said: “That was when I knew they had made a mistake. I just stood there reading it over and over for about 15 minutes in the post office not understanding how it had happened.
“It was utter disbelief. I have deep family roots in the area. I have an identical twin brother whose citizenship has never been questioned.
“He was born nine minutes before me at HM Stanley Hospital, but that wouldn’t have given my mother any time to cross a national border!”
Craig has not been given any explanation about why he is not classed as British and the UKBA will not speak to him over the phone.
The couple were told if they were not happy with the decision, they should lodge an official appeal but were wrongly told by the UK Border Agency they had 10 working days to appeal, rather than just 10 days.
This resulted in their appeal being refused because it was not submitted on time and they now have now been told their only recourse is to lodge an official appeal against the decision not to allow them to appeal.
Crystal has been told that if her appeal is unsuccessful she must leave the UK as soon as possible when her present visa runs out.
Craig, who lives in Chester with his wife, said: “It’s getting beyond a joke now, I dread to think how much this is going to cost the taxpayer to sort out.
“I do not have the right to live or work in Canada and my worst fear is that we would be separated again, ruining everything we have worked towards.”
Ironically, Crystal’s grandparents were a Geordie and a Scot so she could have qualified for full British citizenship under an ancestry visa if she had foreseen the current problems. Craig also has an identical twin brother who has not had any issues over his British citizenship.
Craig has contacted Chester MP Stephen Mosley about the matter, who is supporting the couple and has contacted the UKBA about their case.
A Facebook pages has also been set up called Support The Colvilles.
A UKBA spokesman said: “We are writing to Ms Levy this week regarding her application. It would be inappropriate to comment further until she has received the latest correspondence.”