Chatteris man spends Christmas apart from US wife after visa battle

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A Chatteris man had to spend Christmas half a world away from his wife after her visa application was refused.

Peggy Townsend had to return to the USA after an application to stay in the UK with husband David was turned down.

Six months later, she has still not returned to this country and David is desperate for them to be together. He is even considering moving to the US.

“It is heart-rending as a British Citizen that the government can do this to us,” he said.

Army veteran David (59) met Peggy online when he was recovering from cancer. They were married in April 2012 and Peggy applied to stay here after her visitor’s visa ran out.

Her application was based on the human right to a family life but it was refused after some documentation was missing. A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency said Mr Townsend failed to submit a copy of his passport which meant there was no proof that he was a British citizen.

“The last thing I expected was to fall in love with somebody and for the government to take them away from me. I speak to my wife every day online and she’s in tears,” David said.

Money is also a major issue for the couple. David has osteoarthritis that is causing his spine to crumble and Peggy was his carer. He took a job before Christmas but he has had to stop working again and is now in a wheelchair.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “British citizens who want to sponsor a spouse visa for their partner must be earning a minimum of £18,600, a threshold calculated as the level at which a couple generally ceases to be able to access income-related benefits.

“British citizens can enter into a relationship with whoever they choose but family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense.”

David said: “We are scared to apply for another visa in case it gets turned down again and we lose the money. I have applied for a visa to go to the States but might not get in on medical grounds.”