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Home Office attacked over refusal of migrant with UK passport

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Author: thenational.scot

A YOUNG businessman who has held a British National overseas passport since he was a child, has been refused leave to remain in Scotland because he has been out of the country for too long over the past decade – including two spells caused by family bereavements.

The Home Office told Johnny Chiu that his time away “could have been better managed” to allow him to meet the rules, which stipulate that he is allowed a maximum 540 days in a 10-year period.

His lawyer, Usman Aslam, described the decision as “appalling”.

The 26-year-old, who was born in Hong Kong when it was still a British colony, became fascinated by the UK during his time at boarding school and later, at university in Edinburgh.

He told The National he was not allowed to stay at school over the summer holidays, so had to return to Hong Kong: “Being the only person in my immediate family in this country, it seemed rational for me to travel back to Hong Kong to unite with my family during these long holidays.

“Even though I knew that I wanted to live in this country for the rest of my life as a child, I did not realise that visiting family back home during holidays would restrict me from living here in the future.”

Things took a turn for the worse in summer 2008, when Chiu’s father died: “It was devastating for our family both emotionally and financially, since my mother hadn’t been working since I was born. On top of making arrangements for the funeral, we found ourselves involved in a family court case that lasted for almost three years.”

Legal worries continued for his mother when he and his brother returned to the UK to study, but both had to return several times to care for her.

Chiu then studied in Edinburgh, and travelled around Europe during holidays. After graduating in 2016 with an economics degree, he planned to decide his future in Scotland over the following two years, but tragedy struck a second time.

“I planned on not leaving UK but unfortunately my grandfather was very sick in Beijing and eventually passed away,” he said.

“I had to return to Beijing to be with him and also to arrange funeral and comfort my grandmother. But the Home Office did not take this into consideration again, simply refusing my application because I went over on days absent.”

Chiu, who has a job, owns property in Scotland and is self-sufficient, added: “I am applying because I love this beautiful country and the people … and I believe that I belong here.”

Aslam said: “It is rather appalling that Johnny is in this situation. He is a British National (Overseas) Citizen which on the face of it sounds as if he will have more entitlements in the UK. However, the Home Office are of the view that he should return to Hong Kong and live there, despite having lived in the UK since he was a child.

“McGlashan MacKay were in court for a case with the same facts recently. We won the appeal, but during the submissions, we pointed out to the judge that given Hong Kong was essentially the UK at the time the appellant was born, the reality is that the appellant was just as British as any Home Office personnel. In our argument it is the same for Johnny.”

Chiu’s MP, Labour’s Ian Murray, told The National: “Mr Chiu contacted me last week to make me aware of his complicated case and I have been awaiting further detail from him on the Home Office decision. I will be supporting him in raising this directly with the Home Secretary and will of course be pressing for his appeal to be successful. I will continue to provide the support that Mr Chiu requires.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our guidance is clear that individuals applying to settle in the UK under long residency must have been in the country legally for 10 years.

“During their continuous residence, applicants are entitled to have spent up to 540 days out of the UK for a maximum of 180 days at a time.”

Source: https://www.thenational.scot/news/17669576.home-office-attacked-over-refusal-of-migrant-with-uk-passport/

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