Mae campaign goes to No 10
Published on: 30 Nov 2014
A CAMPAIGN to stop a mother being split up from her family has taken a step forward after a petition signed by more than 2,000 people was taken to 10 Downing Street.
Mae Draper, 41, who is from the Philippines, has been married to Downend-born Kevin for nearly 20 years but is facing deportation because she was given the wrong type of passport following a visit to her homeland.
The couple have a 14-year-old daughter, Rhian, a Sea Cadet and student at John Cabot Academy, and are settled in Hanham.
They have been told Mae will have to return to the Philippines to apply for the correct passport but there is no guarantee her application will be successful.
The Draper family has won support from people across Bristol, including Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore who has referred to the case as “tragic and distressing”.
A petition launched by the MP to highlight their case reached more than 2,000 signatures in just a few weeks.
Last month Mae, Kevin, Rhian and Kevin’s 92-year-old mother Catherine accompanied the MP to 10 Downing Street to present the petition.
Property developer Mr Draper, 59, met Mae in Hong Kong and the couple married in Bristol in 1995.
Mrs Draper, a trained midwife, returned to the Philippines to spend time with her father following the death of her mother, but she experienced problems coming back to England.
She was stopped from returning for a year but was then granted a visitor’s visa so came back to the UK in March 2013.
But Mrs Draper, 41, needs a spouse via in order to remain in this country. She has been told she cannot simply transfer her visitor’s visa to a spouse visa, as used to be the case.
Instead, the family has been told they have to start the visa application process from scratch which would involve Mrs Draper returning to the Philippines and even then, her application could be turned down.
The family cannot understand why the UK Border Agency in Manila did not issue Mrs Draper with a spouse visa in the first place.
Mr Draper said Mae has been unfairly affected by the Government tightening up visa legislation in order to stop sham marriages.
He said: “I support that policy but we are a genuine family. Chris Skidmore feels strongly that our case is unique and common sense should prevail.
“The petition will take the case to a higher level of authority where our application is not just a piece of paper but is supported by the weight of thousands of people.
“There’s still no guarantee and we’re not home and dry by any means. There’s nothing more we can do - we have to sit and wait and see if we can make an appeal. It is unsettling for us all. We just want to get on with our lives.”
Mr Draper said if Mae has to return to Asia it means Rhian will need to decide whether to remain in the UK without her mother or go to the Philippines without her father. “No child or family should have to make this sort of brutal sacrificial choice,” he said.