A YOUNG married couple facing deportation can finally look forward to a future in Britain after 14 months of uncertainty.
Crystal Colville, 30, a Canadian citizen living in Chester, was this week finally told she could remain in the UK with her husband, Leader photographer Craig Colville, who works in Flintshire and was born and brought up in North Wales.
Crystal married Craig, 32, in 2012 and applied to the Home Office for ‘an extension of stay’ in Britain in her new status as his wife.
But her application was turned down last year following a series of bureaucratic blunders, including a letter declaring Craig, who was born in St Asaph, was ‘not a British citizen’.
Since then Crystal has been living in limbo. Her passport was held by the UK Borders Agency, meaning she has not been able to visit her family in Canada for more than a year, despite her brother suffering from ill-health.
The couple were due to appear at the Court of Appeal this week to ask for the decision to be overturned, but instead they were sent an unexpected package.
Craig said: “Crystal went to the post office because there was something we had to sign for. When we opened it we found everything inside – her passport, her marriage certificate, a new visa and a letter saying she could stay and work.
“We haven’t had that for 14 months.
“It’s like a massive weight has been lifted. We’ve got more options now.
“It was the not knowing – the court date was supposed to be today but it was cancelled.
“This has been a long time coming.”
Jubilant Crystal posted the news on Facebook, saying: ‘Finally! Mommy I am coming home!’ and Craig said the next move was to secure a ticket to Vancouver and back.
Crystal had been told that if her appeal was unsuccessful she ‘must leave the United Kingdom as soon as possible’.
At the time Craig said: “I do not have the right to live or work in Canada and my worst fear is that we would be separated again, ruining everything we have worked towards.”
In yet another cruel twist, while researching the issue, the couple found out that Crystal’s grandparents were a Geordie and a Scot.
If she had foreseen the drawn-out visa affair, Crystal could have qualified for full British citizenship under an ancestry visa.
Craig first met Crystal in 2006 when they were both working on a cruise ship.
After a long distance relationship she moved to the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa in October 2010 and the pair were married at a ceremony in Llangollen last July.
The return of her passport and permission to stay marks the end of a distressing, stressful time for the young couple.
Craig said: “We did crack open a bottle of champagne. Just having her passport in hand makes a difference. We feel less trapped. Instead of worrying about the court date, we’ll be going to the Chester lights switch-on. For the first time in a long time this has not been hanging over us.
“We actually feel physically lighter, as though we are being lifted up.”
The couple have not yet had a honeymoon and are now tentatively making plans for next year.
Craig said: “We want to thank everyone who has supported us over the last year. We will never forget that.
“It’s funny, but the Home Office never got back to me about me being labelled as not being from the UK, although they admitted in the national press it was a ‘clerical error’.
“To be honest, we’re just happy it's all worked out.”
See full story in the Chester Leader