The couple were married in 1994 in Stratford-Upon-Avon before moving to San Juan Island in in 1996, where Albert worked for 20 years, but when his health started to decline, he has arthritis, type two diabetes and mental health issues, Dawn decided to return to her native Britain with Albert in January 2016. so she could care for Albert and be near her family in Hertfordshire. He was granted a six-month short-term visa and when it expired they applied for a 'spousal visa', which would eventually allow him to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Dawn recalled : “We applied but it took them so long to get back to us that every day I was panicking about the future of my husband.” In December 2017, the Home Office turned down Albert’s application, so he applied again, submitting more evidence, which related to both his a Dawn's frailty, but was rejected the following November.
Outlining the decision in a letter, the Home Office said : 'You have provided NHS documents in support of your claim which outlines the conditions and treatments you are receiving' which 'do not specifically specify that you and your partner are unable to travel or that you and your partner are currently receiving urgent treatment. Your conditions are not life-threatening and no evidence has been provided to show that undertaking a journey whilst relocating is likely to have a huge detrimental impact on your condition.'
Albert's reaction to the prospect of undertaking the 7,000 round trip journey on his own to the States and relocate was to say : “I rely on Dawn to help me with my day to day care. I wouldn’t be able to cope alone.” She said : “I am Albert’s official carer and he requires constant support with his personal care and medical conditions. Albert is not capable of caring for himself and I currently do everything for him, cooking, cleaning, gardening, shopping, making his medical appointments for him as well as making sure that he takes his medication."
“I have repeatedly made Albert’s case to UK Visas and Immigration and personally engaged with the Home Office a number of times."
Now, following a review of its decision and possibly as a result of the fall out from the Windrush Scandal, the Home Office has revoked its decision and has written to Albert to say :
'It has been determined that your indefinite leave to remain in the UK was never revoked. When you entered the UK in 1997, it appears that the ILR stamp in your passport may have been overlooked and you were issued leave to enter as a visitor. However … there was no requirement for you to apply for leave to remain. Please accept our sincerest apologies for any difficulty, stress or inconvenience this may have caused you, your spouse and your family.'
The Home Office has also said it will refund the family the £1,804 they have spent in visa application fees the family are also considering suing for their legal fees, which came to more than £5,000.
Marina Breeze, Dawn Dolbec’s daughter said : "When we opened the letter we were dumbstruck. We were torn between relief and outrage at the effort, time and money we’ve wasted, not to mention the terrible trauma our family has been through over the past two and a half years. But we’re only celebrating today because we’re educated, persistent and financially able to have fought for all these years. Despite all that, it was only when we raised public attention, through our MP and the media, that the Home Office began to care enough to really look properly at our case. What about all the families without our advantages? They have to accept wrong Home Office decisions and see their families destroyed as a result.”