A married couple are looking forward to spending their first Christmas together after UK visa issues separated them almost a year and a half.
Denise Rowe met future husband Kennedy Chinyere in Zimbabwe in 2007 when she travelled there to learn more about traditional Zimbabwean dancing. The couple kept in touch and she returned to the country for visits in 2011, 2014 and 2015, when Mr Chinyere proposed. The couple tied the knot in Zimbabwe in April last year.
They intended to live together in Chagford in Devon, and began the UK visa application process to bring Mr Chinyere to Britain. However, the initial application was turned down because the authorities did not believe he would return to Zimbabwe at the end of the visa period.
Ms Rowe told Tavistock Today: “This was heartache. We were stunned, bewildered, mourning the time we should be spending together as newlyweds.
“Struggling to do this alone, we reached out for help. And in July 2015 we raised over £3,400 from supporters from all over the world who were moved by our story, and we began the journey towards Kennedy’s spouse visa.”
He had to pass an English exam as well as physical examinations including a test for tuberculosis which showed some problems. In the meantime, he had to return to Zimbabwe, and his new wife travelled to be with him and run a dance retreat.
The couple finally received a spouse visa, which allows Mr Chinyere to live in the UK with his wife.
He said: “I was so happy to come to here, because when I was in Zimbabwe I was always thinking about my wife. But, I was a little bit nervous about speaking English, it was a challenge.”
Ms Rowe added: “Kennedy has always been an inspiration to me, he feels like a soulmate, a kindred spirit.”