A Cambridge University librarian has launched a campaign to prove his marriage to a Chinese woman is genuine after the Home Office labelled it a sham.
David Rushmer, 48, a senior library assistant, has accused the Home Office of treating him and his wife Wang Xiang “like political pawns just to keep immigration numbers down”.
“Everybody’s stunned,” he said. “Before I was married I knew nothing about immigration rules. Unfortunately you realise you have to become a bit of an expert if you want to navigate all the traps that are there.”
Ms Wang first came to the UK in early 2010, joining her Canadian ex-husband on a dependent’s visa. But their marriage failed after six months.
She then met Mr Rushmer online after reading poetry he had published on a website, meeting him face-to-face on 2 June 2012. They visited each other between London and Cambridge for six months, before moving in together in Cambridge in November.
15 months after applying, Ms Wang received her leave to remain refusal on 9April 2013 and Mr Rushmer proposed to her that same day as they knew they wanted to stay together. They married in Zhongshan, China, on 13 June and sent the UK visa application the next day.
However, despite submitting hundreds of pages of evidence, including wedding photos, Skype chats, and testimonies from friends and relatives, the couple were told their relationship was not genuine.
The Home Office based its decision on a two-hour interview with Ms Wang in which she mentioned that her work as a freelance journalist had touched on sensitive issues in China, including films about Tiananmen Square, forced land seizures, and Hong Kong’s democratisation.
“Therefore the UKBA assumed that her intention of marrying me was just a convenient escape from the Chinese authorities,” said Mr Rushmer.
Ms Wang is now staying with relatives in China and is struggling to find work. She has sent an appeal letter to the Home Office.
Mr Rushmer claims he was even denied the chance to spend the festive season with his wife.
“We tried to go to Paris during Christmas and New Year but the French are proving just as difficult due to UKBA's refusal,” he said.
He added: “I’m unbelievably depressed and I’ve been extremely distressed. My boss… has sent me home out of good will because I was just unable to talk to people. I was just too emotional. It’s just too much.
“You lose the will to live quite frankly, let alone pursue your visa.”
An online petition asking the Home Office to overturn the refusal had gained over 1,000 signatures at the time of writing.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Each application to enter the UK is considered on its individual merits. Decisions are based on the evidence provided and made in accordance with the immigration rules.
“Permission to enter or remain in the UK on the basis of a relationship with a British citizen will only be granted if the Home Office is satisfied of an applicant’s credibility.”
Mr Rushmer remains stunned that the couple’s credibility has been challenged and maintains that theirs is a genuine marriage.