Norwich family’s visa heartbreak

'Worse than a death'– these are the words a Norwich man has used to describe having to live hundreds of miles away from his wife and child with little hope of being reunited.

The McCrystal family has been split just before Christmas after Australian-born Robyn McCrystal had to return to her homeland with four-year-old son James, separating her indefinitely from English husband Damon. A heart-breaking goodbye at Heathrow Airport followed six months of desperate attempts by the couple to obtain Robyn a permanent visa to stay in the UK, so she and her son could live with Damon and help look after his mother in Thorpe St Andrew.

Fighting back tears, Mr McCrystal explained that with no prospect of work in Australia and little money, he now had to remain in Britain and face a life without those he loved.

He said: 'It is worse than a death, as when someone dies that's a conclusion. I've not got a conclusion, as my wife and son are so far away and I don't know if I will see them again.

'It's unbearable, I just can't cope and I just want my family here with me.'

Earlier this year the Evening News reported how the couple had met online in 2006, and it was with little difficulty that Mr McCrystal obtained a visa to move to Australia a year later.

However, after struggling with the cost of living and difficulties in getting work, they started applying for a permanent visa for Robyn to live in England.

Most Read

Their efforts were rejected five times, prompting them to make the move to England in May shortly after marrying in the hope that they would have a better chance at having their hopes fulfilled.

But having been told she must apply from her home country, Robyn's holiday visa expired, ending a fight that has so far cost them more than �5000 in applications, flights and a passport for James.

The 43-year-old explained that he now had a cleaners job which he hoped would soon become full time, meaning he had just enough money to fund his family at their home near Bendigo but little more.

He had little hope any future visa applications would be successful, and added they could not afford to anyway.

And having faced heartbreak watching the pair depart on November 29, he now struggles to take care of his mother Norma at their home in Spinner Avenue.

'Robyn nearly didn't go as she just couldn't bear it but I said you have to go. We have done everything legally all the way through and have been treated so badly,' he said.

'James keeps on asking to come back home and they are really struggling over there, and they've barely got any food. We've managed to get a house but I am having to pay the rent because she has to care for James.'

Mr McCrystal said that he couldn't afford to visit Australia, adding that the stress had driven him to see a doctor.

'It's unbearable, I just can't cope and I just want my family here with me. It's stressing us out and I am sure it is against our human rights. The UK border agency are destroying our lives.

'We just want to be together and they're not allowing us to be together.'

Reiterating a previous statement, a UK Border Agency spokesperson said: 'To prevent abuse of the immigration rules, people who wish to apply for settlement as a spouse in the UK must do so in the country in which they normally live.

'People wishing to settle in the UK must also demonstrate that they can be maintained and accommodated without relying on public funds.

'Mrs McCrystal has provided insufficient evidence showing that she meets this requirement and our decision has been upheld by the courts.'

Are you fighting a battle with the authorities? Contact John Owens on 01493 847954 or email