A Yorkshire family are being ripped apart after a three year battle with the Home Office to remain in the UK.
Leeds born war veteran Ray Coulson will have to watch his Canadian wife Shainie and possibly their three teenagers - aged 18, 17 and 15 - leave the country on May 14 because they can no longer afford the legal fight to get ‘leave to remain’ in the UK granted.
In the last three years they have spent £15,000 on fees and faced with the possibility of another £20,000 bill they have made the heart-breaking decision to uproot from their jobs, friends, schools and colleges and start again, selling possessions to fund the move.
Mrs Coulson has no permission to stay after next month but the family are hoping to get permission for their children to stay until at least the end of this year’s education term.
Their eldest son is in the second year of an engineering course, their daughter is half way through college and youngest son is preparing for his GCSE year.
Faced with staying here alone, Mr Coulson - who served in two Gulf wars, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and did three tours of Bosnia - will have to leave his job, pals and elderly and ill parents to keep his family together.
He said: “It is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. It is devastating and soul destroying. We don’t have the money to fight it and there is no guarantee I can stay in Canada. My father-in-law is having to sponsor me because we don’t have an income there.”
The couple, now of Eccleshill, Bradford, got married in 2006 while Mr Coulson was a serving soldier in Canada and were granted a British marriage certificate. When he was posted back to England in 2009 his new family followed in 2010 and Mrs Coulson given a three year stay. The couple claim the Army said the children didn’t need any paperwork but discovered they did when Mrs Coulson re-applied for permission to stay at the end of 2013.
The family’s application for Mrs Coulson and their children, however, was rejected by the Home Office in 2014 because Mr Coulson was no longer in the army having retired in 2011 when he had completed his 22 years of service.
To get legal permission to stay in the country each child has to apply for naturalisation paperwork which costs £936 each, leave to remain which costs £811 each and an NHS surchage which is £500 and that is not including Mrs Coulson’s application or legal fees on top.
The couple said they decided to pull the applications after being advised by a solicitor there was only a 50-50 chance they would be approved.
Mr Coulson said: “We were having a normal life together and then boom. I served both Gulf wars, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo so I feel big time cheated and betrayed.”
The teaching assistant at Summerfield School in west Leeds, said: “The whole thing is overwhelming. Our life has been in someone else’s hands. He is 45 and I am 40 and we have to go back and live with my parents. We will never retire and are already in debt from this.
“We had a family meeting and told the children and the oldest was upset, our daughter has done nothing but cry and the youngest won’t speak about it and says he is not going and that is where we are at.