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US cancer patient Ralph Marx sent back by Home Office because of his disease

The Home Office is appealing against a judge who backed the family's case

A father from the US has been forced to leave his wife and daughter in the UK, because the Home Office said his cancer treatment bill was too high.

After 56-year-old Ralph Marx from Chidham, West Sussex, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the NHS sent him a £98,000 bill for the emergency cancer treatment he received, and the Home Office ordered him to leave the country because he was a burden on taxpayers.

Lorraine Marx, his wife, who is also 56, and their daughter, 10-year-old Alexandra, were helpless when he was deported to the US against medical advice, The Argus reported.

When the couple married in 2001, Mr Marx chose not to apply for residency status – meaning he is only able to stay in Britain for up to six months at a time.

As his diagnosis and subsequent stint in hospital meant he was at risk of passing the 6-month limit, Mr Marx surrendered his passport in 2012 and applied for Family Leave to Remain, in an attempt to stay at the family home.

However, the Home Office rejected his application and ordered him to leave Britain immediately.

A judge upheld the family’s appeal in January this year, and said: “On no occasion, save the time when he was gravely ill, did he fail to comply with the terms of his visa.”

While the NHS has dropped Mr Marx’s bill, the Home Office appealed the judge’s decision at court on Wednesday.

Mrs Marx told the newspaper: “We’d tried so hard to be positive, and after Ralph had been so sick, it was almost too much to bear. To then receive the NHS bill made me feel like someone had thumped me in the stomach.”

Mr Marx told the Argus: “The Home Office is well aware that we are financially stable for the long term.

“The greatest tragedy, though, is in the pain and destruction of a British family at a critical time in their lives. We will never get this time back.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are appealing the tribunal’s decision because we believe it did not apply the immigration rules correctly.

"Our family rules have been designed to make sure that those coming to the UK to join their spouse or partner will not become a burden on the taxpayer and will be well enough supported to integrate effectively.”