By Richard Spillett for MailOnline 26 March 2015 |
• Couple married in 1970 after British man went to work in Canada
• They have since lived in Ontario, but now want to return to the UK
• But despite owning house in Britain, border force has refused wife visa
• Couple, who have grown-up son, brand decision ‘utterly extraordinary’
Border officials refused a Canadian woman the right to stay in the UK claiming she doesn’t have a ‘genuine relationship’ with her British husband – despite them having been married for 45 years.
David Summers, 70, and his wife Maria, 66, have been happily married since 1970, and have a 42-year-old son, Derick, who holds a British passport.
The couple lived in Ontario, Canada, until September 2013, when they moved back to the UK to care for Mr Summers’s sick mother.
But border officials have now refused retired optician Mrs Summers’s application for a permanent UK visa because they don’t believe the pensioners have a real ‘affectionate relationship’.
The decision was appealed and it is currently being considered by the UK Border Agency, who have told the couple that no final ruling will be made until the end of May.
The couple, who own a house in Hereford, are meanwhile desperately trying to prove that their marriage is genuine for fear Mrs Summers could be permanently excluded from the UK when her temporary tourist visa expires.
Mrs Summers said: ‘It’s ridiculous, we are quite willing to give the border people what they want but they are adamant. I don’t know what they want us to prove.
‘Anyone who has ever spoken to us can clearly see that we are best friends and have been since the day we met.
‘We’ve got almost half a century’s worth of birthday cards, 45 years of holiday snaps from all ove the world.
‘We’ve got pictures of us with our son just after he was born, growing up, right up to his wedding day. If they’d asked us to send us all of those photos, we could have done.’
Mr Summers, a retired retailer and published author, added: ‘Why pick on us? We’ve been married for 45 years and we are completely devoted to one another, what do they want us to do?
‘We could show them pictures, e-mails, texts, everything from our marriage, but they have not asked us for anything. They are doing this based on no evidence at all.’
Mr Summers added: ‘They haven’t even given us a chance to prove that our marriage is real. We’ve got a marriage certificate and a son, what more do they want?
‘We love each other very much, it’s really hurtful for them to suggest that our marriage is not real.’
Why pick on us? We’ve been married for 45 years and we are completely devoted to one another, what do they want us to do?
Mrs Summers’s application for a permanent UK visa was rejected by British authorities, with a letter citing the reason for rejection stating: ‘You have not provided any evidence that your relationship is still subsisting.
‘It is reasonable to expect that in a genuine subsisting, supportive and affectionate relationship, there would be evidence of regular contact, signs of companionship, emotional support, affection, and abiding interest in each other’s welfare and well-being throughout the entire duration of your relationship….I am therefore not satisfied that your relationship is not genuine.’
The pair met at a dance in Kingston, Ontario in 1966 while Mr Summers was in the country working in retail and soon fell in love.
They married in 1970 and lived in Kingston until 1981, when they moved to Ottawa.
The couple made frequent visits back to the UK and bought their house in Hereford in 1995 for Mr Summers’s elderly mother Doris Murray to live in.
They made the trip back in September 2013 and intended to retire in Hereford and care for Doris, who had fallen ill.
David said: ‘We filled in a load of forms when we had Derick which meant we could come back and forth as much as we wanted, but for us to retire here permanently, we found out Maria needed to have this permanent visa.
‘If Maria’s second visa application fails, we would have no choice but to move back to Canada.
‘We would have to sell our home and move my mother into a care home. We have family here but they cannot look after her.
‘I find it utterly extraordinary, I can’t really contemplate life without my wife.’
The Home Office, which runs the UK Border Agency, has yet to comment on the case.