Spencer Howell, 40, and from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, has a young son, David, with his wife Yauheniya, 36, who he met in Belarus. However, the family haven’t been able to get the permits needed to relocate to the UK.
Yauheniya, also a qualified engineer, has a daughter, Darya, nine, from a previous relationship – and both of them travelled to the UK to live with Spencer for six months after she met him in 2015.
When Yauheniya’s visa came to an end, she went back to her native Belarus with her daughter to apply for a new one – which was rejected, Grimsby Live reports.
Spencer then had to travel back and forth between the UK and Belarus as a second visa application for both Yauheniya and Darya was also refused.
In March 2017, the couple got married in Belarus, and began applying for a spousal visa.
But, despite the fact that Yauheniya passed both of the English tests required alongside the application, this visa was also rejected.
Eventually, Spencer relocated to Belarus to be with his family and they welcomed their son, David, in September 2018.
Violence and protests in Belarus last year saw the family of four having to pack up and relocate to Poland, where they are currently living – but they want nothing more than to return to Lincolnshire to be with Spencer’s family.
They have since applied twice for two family permits for Yauheniya and Darya which would allow them to relocate to the UK – but both applications were rejected both times by the Home Office.
Spencer said that his situation has taken a toll on his mental health, as he cannot bring his family home to see his father, who has prostate cancer.
He said: “We’ve been together a long time, we’re married and have two children. What’s the problem? I shouldn’t have to go through all this hell.
“I must have spent around £30,000 just through legal fees and getting documents translated through this entire process. I just want this miserable and painful experience to come to an end.”
He added: “I just feel like I’ve been uprooted from my friends, my family and my background, and I just want to be at home with my family. I pay my taxes on time and I owe nothing to the government.
“They should have shown us a duty of care instead of leaving us to die in Belarus.
“I feel devastated, upset, and that my daughter has missed out on so much. She’s not been able to go back to England for five years, my son’s never been to England. We’ve paid so much money in solicitors’ fees, Home Office fees, and we’ve just been absolutely shafted.
“It’s messed with my daughter’s mental health and wellbeing too.
“She’s asking lots of questions and obviously I just feel totally betrayed. I’m just really, really upset about it.”
Spencer said he is having to run his Louth-based property lettings business from thousands of miles away in Warsaw, Poland.
“I can’t take my children and my wife home and have a normal family life.
“I’m here in a country where it’s not my native tongue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to the Polish government and the Polish people for their kindness and help, they’ve been very hospitable – but it’s the total opposite to what the British government has been like,” he said.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The EU Settlement Scheme has been an overwhelming success, with almost 6.3 million applications received and more than 5.5 million grants of status made by 30 November this year.
“If an individual’s application is refused under the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit, they can make another application free of charge and they can also appeal up to 28 days from the date they received the decision, from inside or outside the UK.”