Norfolk couple’s visa nightmare

A family is facing the heartache of being torn apart after a Norwich man's Australian wife was refused a visa to stay permanently in the country.

Robyn McCrystal lives with her husband Damon and their four-year-old son James in Thorpe St Andrew after moving to the country using a visiting visa.

However, this is due to run out in November and immigration officials have denied five applications from the 43-year-old to be allowed to stay in the country.

The applications have been refused despite the fact she has a job lined-up and claims to have 'done everything possible' to meet immigration requirements.

Today, the couple told how they felt like they had been treated like 'criminals' by the UK Border Agency, which said it stood by its decision.

Mr McCrystal, ??, told the Evening News: 'I came home in the early hours yesterday morning and looked at the bedroom window and thought about what would happen if Robyn and James went, and it honestly made me cry - my family won't be there.'

Mrs McCrystal, who is now on anti depressants due to stress, said she was 'disgusted' at the immigration system in Britain, and added she had been treated poorly by those she had dealt with.

Most Read

'I feel like I'm being treated like a criminal, although I've never broken a law in my life. All I want to do is be a family.'

The couple first met over the internet in February 2006, with daily conversations quickly turning into long phone calls and in the early days Mr McCrystal remembers spending �200 of phone credit in one evening.

And it was in June that year that Damon, with 'butterflies all the way', made his first ever flight from Heathrow to meet the woman he had fallen in love with at Melbourne airport.

Having got to know Robyn's family, and her three children from a previous marriage, he made the move there in 2007 and with little difficulty was granted a working visa.

It was after four years together in Australia that difficulties set in.

Looking to return together to help care for Damon's mother Norma at her Thorpe St Andrew home, off Spinney Road, the couple set about applying for a settlement visa for Robyn in February 2010, but with no luck.

Five attempts later and the accumulated costs of trips, visa applications and getting a British passport for their son has so far cost them more than �5000 - money they say they can barely afford.

Each time the reason for rejection came back, they say, they looked to deal with the issues raised only to be met with another refusal.

Mr McCrystal pointed out that his wife, a carer, had a full time job lined up were she allowed to stay. He said: 'We're so angry because we were doing all that was asked of us and we weren't getting anywhere. We could've applied again but it was just a case of what's the point.

'Every three months between finding out we were stressed and of course every time the answer it was a no. It was like our lives had been swallowed up in a big hole, and James is picking up on it too.'

They say the stress affected Damon's mother, who fell very ill this winter.

Mrs McCrystal has been told she cannot apply as she is on a visiting visa and says the family cannot afford to move back and take the risk of having to find work again, meaning that he will have to stay in the UK and send money for his wife and son.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: 'Settlement applicants must demonstrate they meet all of the immigration rules including that they can be maintained and accommodated without recourse to public funds.

'In this case the applicant has provided insufficient evidence to demonstrate she meets this requirement and our decision has been upheld by the courts. If circumstances change or further evidence can be provided, she is free to reapply at any time.'

Are you fighting a battle with the authorities? Contact John Owens on 01603 772439 or email