Couple torn apart by immigration change

SUE Houtman is enduring the pain of a 3,000 mile separation today after her husband Doug was forced to leave the UK.The soulmates, of Crescent Road, Ipswich, had been inseparable until red tape intervened and the tears began to flow.

SUE Houtman is enduring the pain of a 3,000 mile separation today after her husband Doug was forced to leave the UK.

The soulmates, of Crescent Road, Ipswich, had been inseparable until red tape intervened and the tears began to flow.

Now a bureaucratic wrangle has left the couple with no option but to live on different continents.

Mr Houtman, an American citizen, had to return to his home country yesterday after a mix-up over obtaining the spouse visa he needs to live with his wife.

Despite fighting to stay at their Ipswich home, immigration authorities told 46-year-old Mr Houtman he must fly back to the United States.

The couple are clinging on to the hope that they will be soon be reunited, but for today they are facing the heartbreaking reality of an uncertain future.

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As he prepared to leave for Gatwick Airport, Mr Houtman said: "There are so many things that run through your mind at this point. The worst part is leaving my wife. In my eyes I am the protector. I just love being with her. I am going to be a nervous wreck.

"We have been together for nearly 14 years and married for two years in April. For the last two years we have not been apart for one day. We do everything together. It's going to be hell. I will be calling her 10 times a day.

"It's terrible. There was a lot of anxiety yesterday. I was wound up like a ten-day alarm clock."

Mrs Houtman's tearstained cheeks bore testimony to the pain she was suffering as the 42-year-old watched her husband prepare himself for the journey.

She said: "I'm going to be lost without him. Doug is my whole life. I can't describe how much I am going to miss him. Doug's thinking it's going to be a week or two before he comes back but I think it's going to be longer."

Mr Houtman paid around £500 for his ticket to Wayne County airport, in Detroit, and expected to travel to Chicago today or Monday in an attempt to get a spouse visa he claims he was incorrectly informed he could get in England.

Until he obtains the visa Mr Houtman is unable to return home to be with his wife.

He said: "It's a big mess really. It's not really right that they couldn't take their time to send out just one stupid little piece of paper. It's not that easy to pack up and go home."

Mr Houtman claimed he was told he could apply for permanent residency when he got to Britain, however when he arrived he discovered this was incorrect.

Immigration law changed in April this year to stop abuse of the rules relating to people who get married solely to avoid deportation.

This meant that Mr Houtman could not get a spouse visa while in England and the only way to get one would be go back to America while his wife stayed in Ipswich to run their business.

Even though the couple were married before they arrived in the UK, Mr Houtman was accused of trying to remain illegally.

N Do you agree with Mr Houtman being told to leave his wife and get out of the country? Give us your view by writing in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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