A couple in their 70s have put their wedding plans on hold after being turned down for a marriage visa.
Shirley Stevens, 76, from Woodbury in Devon, met Australian Allan Charlton, 71, at a stroke survivors’ club in Exmouth last year. When Mr Charlton returned home, they kept in touch and fell in love. They planned to marry and live together in the UK but may now have to wed in Australia, which could cost them around £3,000.
Mr Charlton, who is currently in the UK on a visitors’ visa, said the couple were asked to prove that they were in a real relationship.
He told the Exmouth Journal: “It’s appalling. They want us to provide evidence of our relationship – how do you do that? We had to complete an 11-page-long document, but it was denied.
“The plan is now to go to Australia and apply for our licence there.”
The couple originally stayed in touch via email because Ms Stevens agreed to help to review a book the former university lecturer had written. But over the months, their professional relationship developed into a personal one and Mr Stevens proposed by email.
Ms Stevens, who was widowed 15 years ago, said: “I never expected to find love, but you never know what’s around the corner.”
A Home Office spokesman said that all visitors to the UK must leave the country at the end of their visa to prevent abuse of the immigration rules. He said that the regulations did not allow someone using a visitors’ visa to change to a different type of visa while they were in the country.
“It is not possible for a visitor to switch to a spousal visa while they are here and anyone who wishes to apply for a spousal visa must do so from outside the UK,” the spokesman added.