US-born man could be deported despite living in UK for 48 years

06 Jan 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A US-born man who has lived in the UK for almost half a century has been told he could be  deported to his native country with just 72 hours notice because of a ‘breach’ in the terms of his UK visa.

Thomas Podgoretsky, 71, had a permanent leave to remain visa and had lived in Britain for 48 years. But after staying in the US for three years after falling ill during a visit, he ticked the wrong box on the administrative form when he returned. He also spent time in the US caring for his dying mother, which further complicated his status.

Mr Podgoretsky has appealed the decision in the High Court but lost because the Home Office was technically correct in ruling that he could be deported. His mistake was to return to the UK as a ‘permanent resident’, when he should have ticked the box marked ‘returning resident’.

Under immigration rules, foreign nationals with permanent leave to remain in the UK are permitted to live outside of the country for up to two years and still retain their UK residency status. The Home Office claimed the former musician and performer had breached his visa terms by staying out of the UK for longer than permitted on three occasions.

The pensioner has no living relatives in the US and has been married three times to British women. He also has four children and six grandchildren, who are British citizens.

Mr Podgoretsky was told by the High Court that although the Home Office’s decision was “harsh”, it was legal and he had no right to appeal.

His case has now been taken up by his local MP for Truro & Falmouth, Sarah Newton, and more than 5,000 people have signed a petition to support him.