Couple appeal for help in UK spouse visa battle

30 Jun 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A couple are appealing for help from the public to help them raise around £5,000 as they continue their legal battle to live together in the UK.

American Michael Chan wants to settle in London with his English partner Christopher Barlow. The couple have been trying for three years to obtain a visa for Mr Chan so they can marry, but he has been turned down three times.

Mr Chan, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and spent 10 years sleeping rough in New York, said it was impossible for him to return to the US because he had no support there as his family refused to accept his sexuality.

Mr Barlow, 66, said: “If we were able to get married tomorrow, we would. We just want to build a new life.

“If you believe in something, you have to fight the system and make it happen, because it would be for all the right reasons. I don’t think happiness should be a negotiable commodity.”

The pair said they had little money left for another visa application. They have already spent around £5,000 on applications so far, which have been rejected for a number of reasons including that Mr Chan could continue receiving treatment for his mental health if he returned to the US.

Mr Chan has made another application for discretionary leave to remain in his latest attempt to remain in the UK. If the application is approved, he plans to work part-time and study. Currently, the couple volunteer at Lauderdale House in Highgate Hill, where they plan to marry if Mr Chan receives permission to remain in the UK.

The couple are appealing for financial support from members of the community in Islington to help them to fund their latest legal battle.