Hitchin couple to be reunited at last after spousal visa nightmare

PUBLISHED: 12:31 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:34 30 June 2018

Husband and wife Luke Devenish and Seulgi Jeong. Picture: Seulgi Jeong

Husband and wife Luke Devenish and Seulgi Jeong. Picture: Seulgi Jeong

Archant

A Hitchin charity worker and his wife are to be reunited at last after the government reversed its decision to deny her a visa.

Luke Devenish, 27, is to see his South Korean wife Seulgi Jeong again within weeks – having been apart for a nightmare six months after their honeymoon.

Asked to describe the moment yesterday when they learned the Home Office had overturned its refusal, Luke told the Comet: “Seulgi just screamed for a couple of minutes, and there were a few tears. Then we hung up because we had so many people to call.

“My mum broke down in tears. It’s been hanging over our heads for so long. It’s just relief that something we deserved for so long has come – at great cost.”

Seulgi said simply that she hoped the process would go more smoothly in 2021, when the time comes to renew her visa.

Luke and Seulgi married in the South Korean capital Seoul last year, having met while he was there teaching English. Days after their honeymoon in Malaysia, he returned home to Hitchin to start a new job while they awaited a spousal visa for Seulgi.

But inexplicably, the Home Office rejected their Korean marriage certificate and refused the application.

Months of appeals and anxiety led nowhere, with Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami’s office trying to intervene on their behalf without success. Luke said he and Seulgi had resolved to give up after the weekend and go start married life in Korea instead.

“It was complete nonsense,” said Luke. “We honestly don’t know why they rejected our marriage certificate. It’s the same sort of marriage certificate everyone in Korea gets, and we had it notarised and apostilled.

“I wasn’t going to stay separated from my wife. I was going to talk to my landlord on Monday, quit my job and go. We had jobs lined up in Korea.”

But the Home Office then suddenly overturned its decision yesterday afternoon – prompting an outpouring of emotion and, above all, relief.

Luke said the reversal came within 24 hours of a barrage of emails from 200 friends, relatives and his fellow Liberal Democrat members to the immigration minister Caroline Nokes. He had already spent about £4,500 on appealing against the decision.

“It seems to have been the grassroots campaign that got the visa just out of sheer volume of emails,” said Luke. “Now we’ve got it, but this is absolutely not how the process should be run.

“And it was such a simple case to solve. Two minutes to check a marriage certificate, against months of separation.”

A Home Office spokesman told the Comet the application was refused on January 3 as Seulgi “did not provide the required evidence, including adequate documentary evidence to demonstrate her ongoing relationship”.

He added: “This decision was overturned on June 27 when, as part of the appeals process, the applicant provided further supporting documentation.”

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