Married couple separated by visa refusal

09 Oct 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

An American man who lived in the UK for a decade with his British-born wife is fighting to the return to the country, after being refused entry when he tried to return from South Africa with his wife and sons.

Herb Reagan and wife Gill, who have been married for 20 years, have been forced to live apart since they came back from Cape Town in July, where Mr Reagan was working as a missionary. They were stopped by officials at Heathrow Airport, who sent Mr Reagan back to South Africa without his family or luggage.

Now living in Georgia in the US, Mr Reagan told the BBC that British officials in South Africa said he was free to return to Britain with a six-month visitor visa and would need to obtain a UK settlement visa once he was in the country. His visa application was rejected in August and he is now appealing against the decision.

He said: “My wife has been put in the unenviable position of being a single parent, doing her best to set up a new house and raise our three sons without my direct input.”

Mr Reagan originally settled in the UK with permission for indefinite leave to remain. However, because he lived outside of the country for more than two years, he had to reapply for a visa – something neither he nor his wife was aware he was required to do.

Mrs Reagan, who is from Nottingham, said the family has been through an emotional rollercoaster and it was difficult to remain positive.

“Each time we have had the visa turned down we have just been desperate. It doesn't feel right to have a family separated like this,” she said.