US bride prevented from rejoining husband in the UK

02 Oct 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A married couple are considering an appeal after the US-born wife was deported because immigration authorities do not believe their marriage is genuine.

UK citizen John Smith, from Essex, met Leah Hayden, from Missouri, last year when they were both visiting the TT motorcycle races on the Isle of Man. They married two months later and set up home together in East Tilbury with John’s four children from his previous marriage.

However, Mrs Smith was told she could not return to the UK when she flew back to the US in March to renew her passport. Instead, she travelled to Paris to catch the Eurostar to London but was turned back by immigration officials.

Mr Smith told The Mirror: “She came through customs and was interrogated, strip-searched and called a liar.

“She was told our marriage was a sham. They said she could stay in Paris, but could not come to England. She ended up being put on a flight to Dublin, then to Chicago, followed by a seven-hour bus ride to St Louis.”

The couple were separated for five months and kept in touch via social media. Mr Smith is currently holidaying in the US to visit his wife. He claimed that the UK authorities did not believe the car hire firm he runs was an established business, even though it was set up by his father.

Home Office officials said Mrs Smith had been refused a spouse visa because she did not reach the minimum income required. A spokeswoman said that she had overstayed the terms of her UK visitor visa and was therefore not allowed to enter the country when she tried to return.

The spokeswoman said: “All applications for visas are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. The onus is on the individual to provide the necessary evidence to support their application.”