Deportation row comes to an end
DOUG Houtman is home, sweet home after a bureaucratic wrangle saw him separated from his British-born wife.The American hotelier was booted out of Britain after a mix-up over his visa.
DOUG Houtman is home, sweet home after a bureaucratic wrangle saw him separated from his British-born wife.
The American hotelier was booted out of Britain after a mix-up over his visa.
He said that forgetting just one piece of paper in order to get a spouses visa has seen the pair split for five weeks at a cost of £2,000 to them and probably thousands more for the tax payers.
But now he is back at the Portman Hotel in Ipswich and looking forward to the future with wife Sue.
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Mr Houtman said: "It feels great to be back. I feel like all my prayers have been answered.
"I couldn't get back fast enough. I found out on October 20 that my visa had gone through and I was on the flight two days later.
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"It sure felt good to be touching down on the runway."
Mr Houtman was packed off back to America on September 26 despite months of arguments with immigration officials.
He said that he had forgotten to put in wife Sue's passport with papers to try and apply for his new visa.
Because of this he said he was then classified as being here illegally and had to go back to America to apply for the spouses visa.
He said: "It was just a big waste of time and money and it should never have happened."
Mr Houtman spent three weeks apart from his wife, until the pain became too much. Mrs Houtman flew out to Chicago for the last two weeks and the couple flew back to Britain together.
Now Mr Houtman has a visa until 2005 and can then apply for permanent residency.
The Houtmans depended on the phone to keep them going while they were separated – sometimes spending nearly three hours a day chatting.
Mr Houtman said: "I'm sure we must have built up a huge bill, but she's well worth it.
"We're both doing good now and just getting back to normal. Everything went a bit crazy while I was away so we're just waiting for things to settle down.
"We've got a nice romantic meal planned, just the two of us. But things have been so busy we haven't had the time."
The couple married in Michigan in April, 2002 and moved to England about six months later.
Mrs Houtman is also enjoying a bit of normality after jetting off to the States her self.
She said: "I'm doing really well now. It's good to have him back.
"At least I know he can stay. He's got a visa for two years and then he'll get permanent residency so he'll be all legal.
"It was really bad while he was away. I ended up flying over there because I couldn't bear to be without him.
"It went through my mind that it would never get sorted out, we both had our moments, but I knew I would be with him whatever happened."