After 56-year-old American Ralph Marx was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Great Britain’s Home Office decided that he was a "burden on the taxpayer" and deported him back to the United States against medical advice.
His British wife, 56-year-old Lorraine Marx, remains in the U.K., where she lives and works, with the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Alexandra.
When the couple married in 2001, Ralph chose not to apply for residency status. Thus, he was only allowed to stay in Britain for periods of six months at a time before leaving and coming back. This was no problem for Marx, a chemical engineer who worked for an international company and who traveled frequently.
However, that changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. His extended stays in the hospital meant that he was running the risk of overstaying his visitor status.
In 2012, Marx surrendered his passport and applied for Family Leave to Remain, which would permit him to stay in his family’s home in Chidham, West Sussex. The Home Office, however, rejected his application.
Marx was ordered to leave Britain immediately.
He later applied again, this time from his new house in Tennessee, only to have the Home Office again reject him, this time because he was declared at risk of drawing on public funds.
After the ruling, the NHS billed him £98,000 for the cancer treatment he had received in Britain.
“I was stunned when the Home Office rejected Ralph’s application,” said Lorraine Marx. "We’d tried so hard to be positive, and after Ralph had been so sick, it was almost too much to bear. She added that receiving the NHS bill on top of the rejection made her “feel like someone had thumped me in the stomach.”
His daughter has only seen him once in the past year and has to speak to him via Skype.
The family’s appeal was upheld in January of this year. “On no occasion, save the time when he was gravely ill, did he fail to comply with the terms of his visa,” ruled the judge. The judge also acknowledged that the family had private medical insurance and that the NHS invoice came at the same time as the Home Office’s refusal of Marx’s application.
Thus, the judge was led to believe that “the impetus for the bill came from the Entry Clearance Officer” and not from the hospital.
The NHS has dropped the hefty bill it had sent Marx, but Marx continues to live in America as the Home Office appeals the appeal over residency.
The former Royal Navy chief petty officer is currently in remission but has not had access to his medical team since he has been away. Because he surrendered his passport, he has also been unable to work.
Marx’s case is to be heard on Wednesday.
Steven Grosvenor, the Marx family solicitor, has indicated that the Home Office “relentlessly maintains that the family cannot support themselves in spite of their having savings more than six times the amount required by the rules.”
“I can only pray that I will get to see my family soon,” said Ralph Marx. “I miss them desperately and hate the pain this is causing my wife and little girl.” He has also noted that the Home Office is “well aware that we are financially stable for the long term.”
“With all the major issues the government has to tackle, I can’t believe they are working so hard to keep a decent, tax-paying family apart,” Lorraine Marx said. "It can’t benefit anyone. I understand that my husband is not entitled to any support – we’ve never asked for any.”
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