Grandmother deported despite 27 years' marriage to Briton
A woman has been deported from the UK despite having been married to her British husband for 27 years and having two British sons and a British granddaughter in the country.
Irene Clennell was removed by British officials after losing her right to permanent residency by returning to her native Singapore to care for her dying parents.
Her British family said she was left with just £12 in her pocket and nowhere to stay in Singapore after focusing on building a life in the UK over the last 30 years.
The government's "insensitive and unfair rules" had served to rip their family apart and would leave her seriously ill husband John without his sole carer, said Ms Clennell's sister-in-law Angela.
"Without her to look after him, we’re all worried for him, and to rip apart a family after 30 years of happiness seems so unfair," she wrote in a page raising fundsfor a legal challenge to the deportation.
Irene has never claimed benefits in the UK. John has worked his entire adult life. We need to fight to keep them together so he has someone to care for him, and so she can stay with her family, where her home is.
Irene has nowhere to go in Singapore, both her parents have passed away - her whole life is here in Britain. It would be heartbreaking for all of us to see her go.
– ANGELA CLENNALL
Mrs Clennell, of Durham, toldBuzzfeed News that her sudden removal was seemingly intended to prevent her from launching a legal challenge against the government. She had been due to meet her lawyer on Monday.
She was told to say break the news to her husband and say goodbye a phone call but “I was just in tears, I wasn’t able to say much".
Mrs Clennell was detained by immigration officials earlier this year and held at a detention centre in South Lanarkshire after falling foul of increasingly strict rules for foreign-born spouses.
They require that the British partner earns a minimum of £18,600 a year - and that both partners remain living in the UK for long, uninterrupted periods of time.
It was this second rule that led to Mrs Clennell losing her right to remain after she returned to Singapore for over two years to look after her parents at the end of their lives.
It is understood that the family had also lived for Singapore for five years in the 1990s but had since returned to the UK.
Mrs Clennell had repeatedly made attempts to sort out her visa status but was rebuffed and was struggling to afford the fees, the family said.
Her husband John told Buzzfeed it was "trickery" to remove people on a Sunday when they can't contact their lawyers and vowed the family would fight the case.
They have since raised £24,000 from well-wishers to help them towards their legal costs.
A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. We expect those with no legal right to remain in the country to leave.”