'Left in limbo': Canadian bride to be forced to wait more than four months for UK visa

5 May 2022, 09:07

Neil Hallett and Rommy Schuurmans had been waiting to hear from the Home Office for four months
Neil Hallett and Rommy Schuurmans had been waiting to hear from the Home Office for four months. Picture: LBC

By Jonny Freeman

LBC has intervened to save a couple's wedding, after they were preparing to cancel the ceremony a second time due to visa problems.

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Neil Hallett and Rommy Schuurmans had been waiting to hear from the Home Office for four months before they got in touch with us.

Neil lives in Reading and wants his fiancée Rommy to join him in the UK so they can get married.

When Rommy first applied for a visa, she was told it would take a maximum of 12 weeks to complete.

That deadline came and went, making the couple more and more anxious about whether they'd get any confirmation.

Rommy was left with the prospect of no work and no home after handing in her notice for both her job and tenancy in Canada, she told LBC: "It's really hard to know what to do, especially because if you phone them you get told you'll hear within a week or two weeks - but no full confirmation.

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"No one can give you an accurate timeline as to when the visa's going to be approved, so you're always left in this limbo.

"You can't make any concrete plans as to what to do."

The couple have already to cancel their initial wedding date - and for Neil in the UK, it's been tough to make plans whilst not knowing if they'll go ahead: "We were told we had to get married within six months of being issued a visa.

"It seemed a bit unjust that if I had an English fiancée, none of this would be happening."

Neil and Rommy had spent time liaising with their solicitor, but had yet to receive any confirmation on the status of the visa application.

After getting in contact with us, we put their concerns to the Home Office.

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Within two days a spokesman confirmed the case had been looked into and Rommy had been granted a visa.

The Home Office issued the following statement: "We are prioritising Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, so applications for study, work and family visas have taken longer to process.

"We have informed Ms Schuurmans that her visa has been issued, and we will shortly be in touch with Ms Schuurmans to make arrangements for returning her travel documents and visa."

Once they'd found out about why their case had been delayed, Rommy told us she completely understood the reasons.

However, she's concerned some Ukrainian refugees were also dealing with the same problems she's faced: "I completely understand the Ukraine situation. For me it was really convenient but I'm not fleeing for my life.

"When you read in the news that the Ukraine visas are delayed too, the visas that are supposed to be being prioritised are taking such a long time as well."

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So now the uncertainty's cleared - Neil and Rommy can plan their big day and look ahead to a future together.

The couple say they're so relieved to be starting a journey they're excited to begin.

Rommy's looking forward to being able to settle in the UK: "There was a huge amount of relief when we found out.

"It's been a long road for us having to put up with just doing zoom calls, phone calls and FaceTime calls.

"We can finally start our lives together."

Neil says the long distance and travelling has been tough, so he's really looking forward to being able to be with Rommy permanently: "During the three or four years we've been together, we've seen each other in person a handful of times.

"This confirmation means we can actually properly plan the next few months of our lives.

"If we want to spent the weekend together, we can just get up and go.

"All of the friendships around us we'll be able to enjoy as a couple, so seeing them and their enjoyment will be amazing."