A COUPLE have been kept half the world away after a two-year struggle to get a visa application approved.

Jason and Maria John got married in Argentina – Mrs John’s home country – in September 2019 and had hoped to move back to Wales to start a life together.

However, upon returning to the UK, the couple found Mrs John was unable to enter the country, as they needed to apply for a family visa.

A year-and-a-half on, the couple are still waiting for a response from the Home Office.


The Home Office guidance reads: "You should get a decision within 12 weeks once you attend your appointment at the visa application centre to, if you are applying to settle in the UK as the spouse, partner or family member of someone who has British citizenship or is settled in the UK."

However, Mr John, 51, from Cwmfelinfach, said his wife is yet to hear about her appointment at the visa application centre.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee any of these difficulties when we got married,” said Mr John.

“I even wrote a letter to Boris Johnson. I sent it with recorded delivery, so I know he received it, but I have not heard anything back.”

Jason and Maria John. Picture: Jason John

Jason and Maria John. Picture: Jason John

Mr and Mrs John met in Argentina in 2019, while Mr John was travelling in Patagonia.

“I lost my father in 2018 on Christmas morning,” said Mr John. “I needed a bit of time away and planned a trip after my father’s funeral.

“I went off to Peru in February, and then went to Paraguay. Me and Maria were Facebook friends and she invited me to stay with her.

“I travelled 30 hours on a bus across to San Juan, near Mendoza. She invited me for tea, I stayed with her, and we really hit it off.

“She came back to Wales with me, and we fell in love and decided to get married. We got married in Argentina.

“We arrived at Gatwick as happy newlyweds. We didn’t know about this spouse visa.

“I had to wait at Gatwick for six hours and then they said they were sending her back to Argentina. As we were coming back for our wedding blessing, we appealed, and they let her have compassionate grounds for the blessing. But ever since then it’s been hard work.

“Maria came back for the blessing so we looked into things straight away to try and stop her from being deported.”

Jason and Maria John. Picture: Jason John

Jason and Maria John. Picture: Jason John

Mr John said the application costs totalled around £5,000, with solicitors’ fees, the application cost and other fees involved.

“We paid the solicitors and the Home Office rejected her application,” he said.

“We went back out to Argentina for her father’s funeral, and came back in March, where they detained her at Gatwick again.

“She was on a flight back to Argentina the next day. I managed to get a ticket on the flight myself.

“The day after we got to Argentina, we flew to Madrid. We got stuck in Spain for the lockdown. We were living in a one-man tent with no gas, no electric and no water.

“We were then stranded in Spain until November. We were on the road in Spain for a number of months with no work and no money coming in. The Royal British Legion helped us as I’m ex-forces.

“In November, we were down to our last pennies. I dropped her off in November, and we decided to try and get the visa, with me in Wales and her in Argentina, before Christmas.”

The couple were granted a fee waiver for Mrs John’s visa application on December 14, however, Mr John said they had received no further correspondence from the Home Office – despite following this up with “numerous emails and phone calls.”

“We’re on the phone to each other every day,” said Mr John. “She’s desperately upset.

“Since the day we met, this is the first time we have been apart like this.

“When you are asking these questions, it’s difficult to accept when you just get no response.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “A fee waiver can only be used for applications made within in the UK. Those who are abroad need to apply for entry clearance to the UK before being able to apply for leave to remain.

“Mrs Maria Del Carmen Vega does not currently have an open application for entry clearance or leave to remain.”

Mr John however, said: “They sent Maria back to apply for the visa application from Argentina.

“We heard the fee waiver had been accepted but have not heard anything since. It's just cruel.

“To come back with a response like that when we've been sat here twiddling our thumbs since November, there's no sympathy; there's no apology. This is not the Britain I fought for and want to show people.”

If anybody has experience of applying for a family visa for a spouse, and has any advice for Mr and Mrs John, please contact thomas.moody@newsquest.co.uk