A Putney woman has spoken of her relief after getting her marriage visa approved – but only following a difficult 16 week wait.
Singapore national, Ezabel, said she had been left without any options after her visa application was delayed without any given reason for more than four months.
But after Wandsworth Times contacted the Home Office, the visa was finally approved.
Ezabel spoke of the concerns and fears the long delay had caused for her, adding that many other people may still be in a similar situation.
The 30-year-old met her husband, Alireza, a British-born research engineer, while on holiday in Edinburgh in 2018.
The couple maintained a long-distance relationship for a year, before Ezabel moved in with Alireza on a fiancé visa in Putney.
After a year of pandemic-related delays, the pair finally wed in Wandsworth Town Hall in December 2020 and immediately applied for a follow-up spouse visa.
Despite submitting her marriage certificate and biometrics by January 2021, Ezabel’s visa took four months to come through – almost twice the eight-week processing time estimated by the Home Office.
The 30-year-old said waiting in limbo had a “dreadful impact” on her mental health.
“I wanted to work, get a social circle, and build my life up again,” she said.
“But all I had to do was sit in the house, cook, clean and go for walks. You couldn’t even volunteer.”
“It felt like my life was on hold. I’ve been working for 12 years in a row and it was a huge sacrifice to stop.”
The former preschool headteacher found a nursery to work at in Putney, but due to her visa status could not accept a job.
“It felt like my life was on hold. It’s hard to make friends, especially in a pandemic, as usually you would meet people through work,” she added.
Stories from social media users on immigration groups provided Ezabel with some consolation, but she said the marriage visa process seemed unfair.
“I’m not the only one that’s been waiting for months with no word, or no way to track their visa at all. But some others get their visa approved within one or two weeks. It doesn’t seem fair to me,” she said.
The cost of Ezabel’s ‘Further Leave to Remain by Marriage’ visa route was over £4000, which included a fiancée visa, an application from inside and outside the UK and an NHS surcharge.
After the Wandsworth Times contacted the home office, Ezabel received her visa on April 12.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Due to the pandemic, there have been some delays to the visa application process but we have continued to process all applications as quickly as possible and we are taking mitigating measures such as hiring additional staff to speed up the process.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused. This visa has now been granted.”