Catcott newlyweds' dreams on hold after visa woe

Bridgwater Mercury: Hugh and Laura Hazelwood pictured at home in Catcott. Hugh and Laura Hazelwood pictured at home in Catcott.

IT should be the happiest time of their lives, but for Hugh and Laura Hazelwood, the six months since their marriage last July have brought only frustration.

Hugh, an Australian national, is still waiting for a settlement visa which will entitle him to work in the UK - his current engagement visa doesn't allow him to take a job or claim benefits.

Hugh, 28, and Laura, 24, who were married in Catcott, have been living in the village ever since their big day, in a three-bedroom home with Laura's father and her two younger siblings; their bedroom is a converted dining room.

The couple say they were told it would take only around six weeks for Hugh's visa to come through.

Both Hugh, a chef, and Laura, a riding instructor, have been unable to take up jobs they had lined up in the Cotswolds, where they planned to start their married lives.

Hugh said: “Whenever I ring the Home Office, they won't tell me anything and it's really hard to speak to a human.

“We were under the impression we would get this visa straight away and we would get a house straight away.

“My wife is very frustrated; everybody is.

“I've gone past the angry stage now.”

Laura said: “We weren't given a straight story. We were told it would be very simple.

“It's quite annoying because we both had amazing opportunities.

“I handed my notice in, in November and I was due to start my new job in December. Now I have to find freelance work.

“We can't afford to rent and are trying to keep enough money to keep food on our table.”

Laura said her family had been “fantastic”, adding: “Dad asks nothing of us but we are a newly married couple and we want our own home.”

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “While people wait for decisions on new applications, it is right that the conditions of their existing visas remain in place.

“We receive a high number of visa applications and it is important that every one is thoroughly examined. We aim to process postal applications within six months.”

Comments (2)

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9:41am Mon 21 Jan 13

deemteam says...

I had a similar experience that took almost a year to complete. Initially my application was denied and I was instructed to return to the US immediately and then apply again from there. The Home Office said it was inappropriate for me to apply while living here with my UK citizen wife, I must do that from the US. While I was working in the US we lived there and my wife had US Resident status which we applied for while she was living in the US, we thought the same would be true for me here. I appealed that decision and that appeal was decided in my favor. I do not claim any benefits, nor do I or will I work here,instead my US pension brings money and taxes into the UK economy. Wish for the best for these folks and that they do not have much longer to wait for a favorible decision.
I had a similar experience that took almost a year to complete. Initially my application was denied and I was instructed to return to the US immediately and then apply again from there. The Home Office said it was inappropriate for me to apply while living here with my UK citizen wife, I must do that from the US. While I was working in the US we lived there and my wife had US Resident status which we applied for while she was living in the US, we thought the same would be true for me here. I appealed that decision and that appeal was decided in my favor. I do not claim any benefits, nor do I or will I work here,instead my US pension brings money and taxes into the UK economy. Wish for the best for these folks and that they do not have much longer to wait for a favorible decision. deemteam

10:12pm Thu 24 Jan 13

BaldCarl2 says...

Shame he wasn't from Pakistan. Then we would have housed them indefinitely rent free. Made them exempt from council tax and translated all government information to save them the bother of learning English.
Shame he wasn't from Pakistan. Then we would have housed them indefinitely rent free. Made them exempt from council tax and translated all government information to save them the bother of learning English. BaldCarl2

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