Dalham: Visa delay splits up family

A WAR veteran has been torn apart from his wife and two young children because of a lengthy Home Office delay.

American USAF veteran Chad Carlson, who was based at RAF Lakenheath for 11 years, was forced to fly back to the States yesterday [Wednesday] leaving his distraught wife Beverley, and children five-year-old Jacob and two-year-old Florence behind.

Mrs Carlson, of Stores Hill, Dalham, said her husband, who retired as a Master Sergeant after two decades of service last year, submitted a spouse application to the UK Home Office Border Agency in February.

She added: “My husband applied and paid a �550 processing fee to the UK Border Agency in February 2012.

“After six months of waiting we discovered his case has not even been looked at.

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“We have been forced apart for an indefinite period due to lengthy delays at the UK Home Office Border Agency, well beyond the stated processing times on their website at the time of application.

“They also still hold both of our passports submitted with the application.”

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Mrs Carlson, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, said the impact has been huge on her family as her husband’s post-retirement work in the aviation industry involves travelling.

“Without a passport he has not been able to fulfil overseas aviation contracts where the majority of work in this field are placed,” the 39-year-old added. “Eventually the work dried up completely because he could not meet client requirements due to these travel restrictions.

“We have now exhausted all our funds and assets to support ourselves, and we have no choice but for my husband to return to the USA to find urgent work.

“I cannot follow because the Home Office has my passport still.”

But Mrs Carlson said the worst part is her husband, 38, will only be able to travel to America on his military retirement orders and will not be able to travel back to the UK without his normal passport.

Speaking before returning to the States, Mr Carlson, who has already spent months at a time apart from his family while being deployed to Iraq for five-months and posted to Korea for a year, said: “As you can imagine we are under an unprecedented level of stress.

“It’s a very traumatic time for our children and they don’t really understand what’s happening. They will suffer greatly by being apart from their father for an indefinite period of time.

“The fact the Home Office has not done what it is supposed to do is very frustrating and we don’t know when we’ll all be back together.”

Mr Carlson is a member of Dalham Parish Council and the Almshouse Committee and has been described as “a pillar of the community”.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “We apologise for the delay with Mr Carlson’s application.

“In recent months we have received a higher than anticipated number of visa applications which has meant that cases have not been dealt with as quickly as we would expect.”

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