Woodbridge: Suffolk teacher forced to live apart from Russian wife over visa row
15:12 08 April 2014
A Suffolk teacher fears his family will be torn apart by the Government’s refusal to allow his wife back into the country.
Charles Tait, the grandson of Benjamin Britten’s personal physician, is embroiled in an immigration row after his wife of four years, Eugenia, was twice denied entry to the UK on a visitor’s visa.
The couple met in May 2007 in St Petersburg, where Mr Tait taught English privately and at language schools.
They married three years later in Mr Tait’s hometown of Aldeburgh, where they moved with their daughter following the death of Mr Tait’s grandfather, Ian, last year.
Mrs Tait returned to St Petersburg this February to renew her six-month visitor’s visa - but her application was refused by the British Embassy in Moscow.
The couple say the refusal is down to officials deeming Mrs Tait’s intended voluntarily care for her mother-in-law as employment.
Mr Tait, who teaches at Ipswich Academy and remains with five-year-old daughter, Angela, at their home in Leiston Road, is willing to provide for his wife, who supported her mother-in-law, Janet, following her husband’s death.
He has also has set up a petition calling on the Government to allow his wife to live in the UK which has garnered nearly 350 signatures.
He said: “Both applications were submitted with property deeds and bank statements, and all the necessary guarantees on my part to provide for her, given that she is not allowed to work in the UK.
“It was in the immediate aftermath of my father’s death that we decided it was time to come back from Russia to Aldeburgh, so that my mother could have the benefit and support of her immediate family near at hand.
“Angela, naturally, is worried by her mother’s absence, and my wife is anguished by it.”
Mr Tait believes the Government will persist in its refusal to grant his wife entry until she is allowed to apply for a full resident’s visa as a spouse. But that application can not be made until he has been employed for six months in the UK or 12 months abroad – a status he argues is difficult to prove because much of his work in Russia was self-employed and his current employment began only in January.
He said: “The apparent disregard of the immigration authorities for the family ties of its citizens also means that care given at the family home for her elderly mother-in-law, following operations and her bereavement, is being given against my wife as a reason for denying her a visa; namely, her not having the right to work, paid or unpaid.”
Mrs Tait intends to apply for full residency in the summer, when her husband will have completed the required employment term. In the meantime, she hopes a third application for a visitor’s visa will be successful.
She said: “Only a parent can understand the agony of being separated from their child for unknown time. Not being able to provide support and help, to hug and kiss, to celebrate achievements and comfort at losses.
“While trying to meet the spouse visa requirements we thought I could come to the UK for periods granted by the family visit visa.
“Coming as a visitor doesn’t allow me to work or apply for any benefits - something I’ve never done anyway - thus I’m not a threat to the employment possibilities for the local people, nor will I be a threat to the country’s budget.”
The Home Office was unable to provide a response to a request for comment in time for publication.
The online petition at change.org can be found by searching for Eugenia Tait on the homepage.
• Support is growing for the family, click here for latest