Our family faces being torn apart
Published on: 31 Oct 2014
KEVIN and Mae Draper have been happily married for nearly 20 years and have a 14-year-old daughter.
Yet the family could face being split up just because Mrs Draper was issued with the wrong type of visa while in Manila.
Mrs Draper is now facing deportation to the Philippines despite spending the past year negotiating with the UK Border Agency.
Mr Draper, 59, a property developer who was born in Downend and grew up in Mangotsfield, is doing everything he can to keep his family together including a petition urging Downing Street to intervene.
The couple, who met in Hong Kong and married in Bristol in 1995, travelled extensively but regularly returned to Bristol.
Mrs Draper, a trained midwife, returned to the Philippines to spend time with her father following the death of her mother, but she then had trouble 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 visa to remain. 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 have been told they have to start the visa application process from scratch which would involve Mrs Draper returning to the Philippines. Even then, her application could be turned down.
The family want to know why the UK Border Agency in Manila did not issue Mrs Draper with a spouse visa in the first place.
Mr Draper, who lives in Anstey’s Road, Hanham, with his wife, their daughter Rhian and Kevin’s elderly mother Catherine, said: “If the UK government could say if Mae goes back to the Philippines and applies for a spouse visa it would be done within a reasonable amount of time, say a month, we would be more than happy to comply. But what we are concerned about is Mae leaving the country with the uncertainty of not knowing how long it would take. It could take up to two years or more and then it could be turned down on some technicality.
Mr Draper said people who know his family react in ‘complete disbelief’ at the situation.
“People think there must be more to it because they can’t believe the UK government would separate a family that has been together for more than 20 years with a 14-year-old daughter. We have friends from all corners of the world and they say to us ‘What’s going on over there? You and Mae have been together for such a long time’. They know we are a genuine family.”
Mr Draper said the law should also consider the deteriorating health of his 92-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease.
Mr Draper said Rhian is faced with the devastating decision of whether to go to the Philippines with her mother or stay in England with him.
“Rhian is torn about making a decision. One minute she says she wants to go with her mum if she’s forced to go back to the Philippines but on the other hand she is excelling at John Cabot Academy. Her life is one of a high achiever and that would be disrupted if she went overseas.”
The family are being supported by Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore.
“Kevin, Rhian and Catherine are all British citizens,” he said.
He is urging people to sign the Draper family’s petition via his website so he can present a strong case to 10 Downing Street.
At the time of going to press more than 1,200 people had signed the petition.