Briton falls foul of muddled UK immigration law

- Posted in United Kingdom by Visa Bureauon 03 September 2012

Professor John Tulloch, 70, was born in India while the country was a British colony. He was brought to the UK at the age of three, he has since married a British woman and has lived and worked in Britain for most of his life.

After earning his degree at Cambridge, Professor Tulloch took a job in Australia where he was granted Australian citizenship. However, as he was born in a former British colony, his citizenship status remained as 'British subject without citizenship' and his British passport was confiscated when he attempted to renew it.

Professor Tulloch, who can trace his British ancestry back to the 14th century, finds the situation all the more galling as the only reason he was born in India was because his father was serving Britain.

"I am totally gobsmacked by this," the professor told the Daily Telegraph. "I've got a huge attachment to Britain. My family has served Britain for three generations, I've been banging my head against a wall trying to get this sorted out, but I've never been encountered so much frustration. It's like Kafka."

A British citizen is permitted to hold dual nationality but a 'British subject without citizenship' is not. Professor Tulloch says he was not informed he was not a full British citizen at any point during the whole process.

"Neither I nor my parents ever received information from the Government that this was somehow an inferior passport.

"The passport itself explicitly said that you could take out dual nationality without risking your British nationality."

The professor has been allowed to enter the UK to teach at Brunel and Cardiff University under a UK visa but as retirement approaches, he has been told only tourist visits would be permitted in the future. He has also been informed by the Home Office that he is not eligible for naturalisation.

"It's getting to crisis point now. When I came back from a trip to Vienne two or three months ago, I got a really hard time at Heathrow. I'm worried that if I leave again, I might not be left back in."

The professor's case is all the more newsworthy due to his involvement in the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London in 2005. Professor Tulloch was on a Circle Line train when one of the bombs exploded, sending shards of shrapnel into his face and only his luggage saving his life.

A picture of the professor emerging from the tunnel, bloodied and shocked became one of the most famous pictures in the aftermath of the events. Professor Tulloch was even visited by Prince Charles in hospital and was lauded as a shining example of the 'resilience of the British people'.

Professor Tulloch says he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and the current situation is doing little to alleviate his problem.

"7/7 is not hard to go back to, I can talk about that. What's hard to go back to is that I am about to be thrown out of the country.

"There I was, hailed as an example of British courage, British pluck and the British spirit, an iconic image of British resistance.

"I get blown up in the media as a British patriot, then I get kicked out."

The Home Office have confirmed that the professor is still eligible for leave to remain but Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says this is unlikely to solve many problems.

"Professor Tulloch's case is an extremely rare exception which highlights the lack of discretion available in most stages of UK immigration procedure," said Ms Murdock.

"The policies and processes can be so complex that it can be hard to know exactly where you stand until it's too late. Professor Tulloch had no reason to suspect he might not be a full British citizen and now faces an extensive, and probably expensive, legal battle to argue his case to stay on human rights grounds.

"If you were born abroad or are considering taking another nation's passport, make sure you are aware what that could mean for your British passport."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.