A recent KCL alumni, pregnant and infected with the Zika virus, is pleading with Canadian immigration to allow her fiancé into the country for the birth of the couple’s first child.
Eloise Patmore, 22, graduated from the College in 2016, with an undergraduate degree in International Politics. She also participated in Breakin’ KCL, the break-dancing society at King’s, and took an active role as a committee member.
In February 2017, Ms. Patmore submitted a Visitor Visa for her fiancé, Jamaican student and citizen, Charles Frost, 26, to visit her home country of Canada, where she wished to give birth.
Previously, for ease of travel, Ms. Patmore had been visiting Jamaica for longer periods to spend time with her fiancé.
The couple first met through the organisation Debate Mate. Mr. Frost, a leading debater at the University of Technology in Jamaica and a member of the Dean’s List for academic excellence, has represented his university and his country at an international debating level, picking up a variety of public speaking awards. The couple’s paths crossed when Ms. Patmore was hired by the UK branch of DebateMate, after being recruited by KCL Debate Society.
As her pregnancy advanced, Ms. Patmore returned to Canada to immerse herself in a “familiar home environment”. However, when she began to submit documentation for her fiancé Mr. Frost to join her on a visit, the application was refused.
“We went to Mr. Murray Rankin, our MP, who kindly helped us find out more details about why his application was refused,” Patmore put forward in a statement, “Then our lawyer reached out to the visa office requesting a review of Charles’ application once more, which they agreed to do. Weeks went by with no news.”
Circumstances for the couple then became increasingly complicated, when doctors gave Ms. Patmore a diagnosis of the Zika Virus.
The Zika Virus was first discovered in 1947, in a remote forest in Uganda. Occurring firstly in Africa and Asia, the virus recently came to global attention when it spread across the Pacific Ocean to North and South America, resulting in an epidemic which lasted from 2015-16. Many countries are still on high alert for the Zika virus, and it is advised certain precautions are taken for those travelling to areas where the virus may still be active. Countries including Jamaica, where Ms. Patmore had been visiting, released advice in January 2016 for women to avoid pregnancy until more was known about the virus.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects” and they advise, “special precautions be taken.”
“We have yet to find out if our child also has the virus.” Ms. Patmore said, “She will be tested at birth, and they have requested for my placenta to be used for medical research.”
Due to her condition and advancing pregnancy, Ms. Patmore’s health advisors have stipulated Ms. Patmore remain in British Columbia, Canada, until after she gives birth. However, with Patmore now unable to travel to Jamaica, and her fiancé, Mr. Frost, barred from entering Canada, the couple are forced to communicate through Skype.
Ms. Patmore, who is eight months pregnant, is now petitioning the federal Immigration minister, Mr. Ahmed Hussain to reconsider the circumstances surrounding the case and accept Mr. Frost’s visitor visa for the birth of the couple’s child.
The couple also asserts that Mr. Frost’s demographic is the primary reason for his visa denial.
“Through a conversation with the office, it became clear that the immigration officers were using his demographic as a measure of his moral character,” Ms. Patmore told Roar, “Charles being a Jamaican student was used as justification in and of itself to refuse him a visa, and the fact he was expecting a child was used against him.”
Ms. Patmore perceives there has been an injustice, and continued to assert her fiancé’s suitability for a visitor visa, “Charles has travelled to the US, Greece, Germany, Thailand and Malaysia, amongst many other countries. He has an extensive travel history and no criminal record.”
Ms. Patmore also provided a list of reasons as to why the couple was told the visa application was rejected. Amongst them were the fact it is not in ‘Jamaican culture’ for the father to be present at the birth, and the fact that Mr. Frost does not own property in Jamaica, something Ms. Patmore states is a “highly unfair assessment criteria – since when do students regularly own property?”
The KCL grad has since created a YouTube video, directly addressed to Immigration minister Mr. Hussain, which explains the couple’s situation in detail.
“This is not an ethical choice to have someone make,” she stated, “I don’t think that it is fair to make someone have to make that choice…There is still time to reverse this decision, and I can’t even express how important this is to us.”
Ms. Patmore and Mr. Frost’s case continues…
Photo kindly provided by Ms. Patmore.