A CHESTER woman has been left heartbroken after being told her husband cannot join her in the UK until she finds a job paying more than £18,000 a year.
Devastated Keziah Holton, 27, from Hoole, has been informed by the Home Office her American husband Mark Vasquez, 27, must remain in the USA for the time being.
Keziah, an Aberystwyth University graduate, met Mark while teaching in South Korea three-and-a-half-years ago and tied the knot at All Saints Church, Hoole, in August.
When they got married Mark was visiting the UK with a tourist visa which was valid for two weeks, after which time he had to return to the US.
“It’s been absolutely terrible for us and certainly isn’t how we thought we would be spending the first months of our marriage,” said Keziah, who now lives at home with her parents.
“We were devastated when we were told Mark had to go back to America and we are still no clearer as to when I will be able to see him again.
“We are keeping in touch everyday via Skype and Facebook but it isn’t the same as actually having my husband here with me. It’s heartbreaking.”
Keziah, who studied history at university, had been working as a chef in Aberystwyth while living at a friends house until September, and has since been looking for work that which will pay enough to enable Mark, who is currently working as a retail store manager in his native Minnesota, to join her in Chester.
Without employment, Keziah would need £65,000 in savings and, should she find work immediately, she would need to remain in continuous employment with the firm for at least six months before any kind of appeal can be lodged.
“I’ve applied for so many jobs. I am searching everyday but jobs paying the amount of money I have to earn to enable Mark to come over are few and far between, especially in the current job climate,” said Keziah.
“I’ve sent the government letters and spoke to the UK Border Agency but they can’t help me at all. Mark wouldn’t be eligible for NHS treatment or benefits for five years anyway so it isn’t like he would be a burden on anybody. He would be looking to find work straight away.”
Keziah is confident that she and her new husband are strong enough to face the challenges they face but admits that the longer they are apart, the more difficult it becomes.
“Mark and I love each other and have a really strong relationship,” she said.
“It’s not as if we just met, we have been together for over three years and spent everyday with each other when we lived in South Korea.
“Mark may be able to visit at Christmas as a tourist but I’m not able to go and see him as I am out of work and just don’t have the funds to do that.
“We discussed me moving to America but the challenges that we would face are really tough given the visa requirements.
“All I can do is keep trying to stay positive and hope I can get work soon. I know it will all be worth it in the end.
“I am so fortunate to have great friends and family at these tough times but I miss my husband and I just want us to be together and want us to have our home here in Chester. That’s all we’re looking for.”
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases but we are clear all applications for settling in the UK must meet the requirements of our immigration rules, and those that do not may be refused.
“British citizens can enter into a relationship with whoever they choose but if they want to establish their family life here, they must do so in a way which works in the best interests of our society.”
See full story in the Chester Leader