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With Mark Dover

Couple to raise awareness of visa application woes after Ilford firefighter’s wife granted entry to UK

The American wife of a firefighter from Ilford, who campaigned to get a UK visa, is going to help raise awareness about similar struggles.  

Sam and Nicole Hayward spent six months apart after her application was initially rejected by the Home Office. 

But after Time 107.5 began covering their plight, the home office accepted her request.

And Nicole says she wants to keep their social media accounts running to support other couples. 

“We feel very strongly about continuing the Facebook group and helping couples who are going through the situation we’ve just dealt with,” Nicole said. 

“A woman wrote on Facebook that she had gone through the same thing and I reached out to her and told her we could talk if she ever wanted to throw around ideas of what did and didn’t work for her.” 

Another man who met an American lady also reached out to them.

“He said they were going through the process so long that he actually moved to America, because it took them so long so he just bit the bullet and went there,” Sam said.

“They’re stopping good people coming into the UK and people are leaving because of it.”

Nicole discovered her application was accepted on Monday, having first applied for a visa in November. 

The Home Office appears to have accepted their original application, rather than the appeal. Nicole was frustrated as it appeared to confirm all the evidence was required was sent but not properly looked at. 

“It’s not just a piece of paper you’re looking at, that is someone’s entire life. They took the time to prepare that and put it in front of you. For you to just pass judgement by scanning it and not taking the time to read it is disgraceful.” 

But while talking to a representative of the Home Office, she was told they would work on the issue, by holding workshops to improve the way staff handle cases like Nicole’s.

The couple also thanked Ilford South MP, Mike Gapes, who helped them throughout the campaign. 

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