A 'real life Gavin and Stacey' couple are facing separation hell as a devastated wife fears idyllic life with her husband will be "ripped away" from her.
American woman Ellen Alvarez said she had been to "hell and back" trying to get a spouse visa so she could live with her "soulmate" husband in Wales.
But the 65-year-old's application to live with partner John Delahunty, 70, who she met on Facebook and married in October 2020, has been rejected twice.
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According to WalesOnline, friends of the loving couple have dubbed them the "International Gavin and Stacey". The Home Office had even gave them permission to get hitched, Mrs Alvarez says.
But now the threat of deportation hangs over Mrs Alvarez. She is preparing to fight her case at a tribunal hearing.
Ms Alvarez said: "I feel like I’m in a nightmare I can’t wake up from. I love Barry so much. It’s such a beautiful place.
"I feel like I’m being treated like a criminal wanting to come here."
The pair met in person in October 2019 after connecting through mutual friends on Facebook. They helped each other through troubled marriages and slowly saw their romance blossom.
"At a time when my best friend was going through too many of her own issues, I reached out to John because I was having thoughts of just ending it all," Mrs Alvarez wrote in an emotional letter to be considered in the upcoming oral hearing.
“From that time on we were always there for each other when the chips were down, albeit from across the pond.
"We would share our love of animals and music and delight in making the other person smile! Little by little without even knowing it we fell in love!”
She later told WalesOnline: "I don’t have family in America…I don’t want to take him away from his granddaughter and his two sons. It made much more sense for me to come here."
Since moving here she has lived with her husband in his flat on Barry Island, which he owns with no mortgage. He also owns another house, which his two sons, one of their partners and his granddaughter all live in. Mrs Alvarez said the only way the couple could afford somewhere to live in America would be if her husband sold both his properties – leaving his family members without a home.
Rejection letters from Home Office officials to Mrs Alvarez said she does not meet the requirements for the visa. Visa bosses believe there is no evidence of any "insurmountable obstacles" the couple would face if they relocated to the USA.
Another reason given by the Home Office for rejecting the application was that Ms Alvarez does not meet the eligibility financial requirement of at least £18,600 as her retirement funds are "not accessible".
But she added: "We truly do not understand why we were allowed to first get married and then told that everything was in order when I had my final biometrics done. I was assured by the Home Office’s own sub-contractor that everything was in order and that I should have no fears of being deported.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: "All visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules. We do not routinely comment on individual cases."
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