Visa dispute separates Chinese wife from British family

By BO LEUNG | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-11-28 19:01

Visa dispute separates Chinese wife from British family

Steve Bearns with his wife Mary Xia Zu and their son Ryan in November 2015. [Photo/China Daily]

An English businessman has enlisted the help of his MP in a visa dispute with immigration authorities in the hope that his Chinese wife can return to Britain and be reunited with their three-year-old, British-born son in time for Christmas.

The family has been in limbo since the Home office declined to grant Mary Xia Zu a spousal visa a year ago after querying her application. The couple won their case at an appeal tribunal but a further application was ignored on the grounds that she was out of the country at the time caring for her sick father.

The Home office told China Daily: "Ms Xia had left the country before the appeal judgment was returned in July 2016-we are unable to act on appeal judgments where an appellant has left the country." Fifty-four-year-old Steve Bearns met Mary, 35, in Shenzhen in 2006. They married in China in 2010 and moved to Wallingford in Oxfordshire with their son Ryan.

"Ryan is our reason to settle here. He is also a British citizen and has the right to have his mother with him," Bearns said. The separation means Ryan splits his time between the UK and China.

Mary was initially granted a family visit visa, but this only permits her to stay in the UK for 180 days within any 12-month period.

"Ryan goes to pre-school here and doesn't like being away, so when he was in China he would say 'mummy, mummy, why can't we go home?'" the businessman said.

"Since I brought Ryan back over in the summer, and whenever we Skype his mum, he is asking her when she's going to come home. It's very upsetting," Bearns said. "It's like we're sharing this little boy. The Home Office is denying our right to life as a family."

Bearns contacted his local MP, Ed Vaizey, who believes the couple has been treated shamefully.

Bearns has already spent around 3,000 pounds ($3,740) on trying to get his wife back to the UK and is now waiting for a date for a second appeal.

"It's ludicrous, we meet all the Home office requirements and we went through all the official procedures, provided the supporting documents and proof that they needed," said Bearns. He said normal family life had come to a halt.

"We haven't celebrated Mother's Day or Father's Day and birthdays have been missed. It seems like we won't be together as a family for Christmas either."

Bearns said the family did not want to be forced to move elsewhere and would not give up on the plan to live in the UK.

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