A Canadian woman whose lengthy battle to obtain a British visa included government skepticism over the affection level of her decades-long marriage is living with her husband once again, but this time on her home soil.
Maria Summers and her husband David had long-standing plans to spend their retirement years in David's home country — the United Kingdom.
The British Home Office thwarted those plans by rejecting Maria Summers's application for permanent residency on the grounds that her 45-year marriage was not genuine or affectionate.
A tribunal later overturned that decision, only to reject her application a second time for financial reasons.
Maria summers returned to Canada in August after several unsuccessful appeals, and David has since followed her back to their former hometown of Ottawa.
They hope to return to the U.K., but David says his wife would be doing so under less than ideal circumstances.
"The last letter that we received ... was that she should apply for a six-month visitor visa," David Summers wrote in an email to the Canadian Press. "Yes I know it's hard to believe that a Canadian citizen whose son and husband both carry a British passport would have to apply for a visa to visit England."
David Summers, who underwent cancer surgery days before his wife returned to Canada, said he opted to rejoin her because of additional, unspecified health issues.
In doing so, he said he was forced to leave his terminally ill mother in a nursing home. Her precarious health was one of the reasons the couple had originally opted to retire in the British town of Hereford where they jointly own a home, he said.
His temporary return to Canada also means that his work as a municipal councillor must be done via email, he added.
The Summers's visa saga began in 2014 when Maria applied for permanent residency status, which would have given her the same travel rights as David.
The U.K. Border Agency rejected her initial application, explicitly questioning the affection level of her marriage in the process.
"It is reasonable to expect that in a genuine subsisting, supportive and affectionate relationship, there would be evidence of regular contact, signs of companionship, emotional support, affection, and abiding interest in each other's welfare and well-being throughout the entire duration of your relationship," the rejection letter stated. "... I am therefore not satisfied that your relationship is genuine and subsisting or that you intend to live together permanently in the U.K."
The couple appealed the ruling, submitting numerous photographs and other materials documenting their years together, but the visa request hit another brick wall.
This time the British First Tier Tribunal acknowledged their marriage was genuine, but said Maria Summers fell less than $2,000 short of the minimum gross income requirement to stay in England.
The couple took their fight public, appealing to the Queen and prompting a politician to raise the issue in parliament, but David Summers said all avenues for permanent residency have now been exhausted.
The situation has prompted a decision that David Summers feels is ironic under the circumstances.
"As long as mother is alive my wife and I have decided to keep two homes, even though the last visa refusal suggested we could not afford to live in England," he said.
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press