Couple torn apart by South Africa visa nightmare are reunited

Daily Echo: Alison Probert and Lionel Illgner Alison Probert and Lionel Illgner

“I COULDN’T be happier.”

Those are the words of former Hampshire shopkeeper Lionel Illgner who has finally returned to the UK after a nine-month visa battle that forced him to postpone his wedding.

Lionel, 49, and 44-year-old Alison Probert were planning to tie the knot in August.

But Lionel had to fly back to his native South Africa to make new visa arrangements and was stranded there after his initial application was rejected.

He was eventually allowed to return following an appeal backed by friends and neighbours in his home village of Milford on Sea.

He and Alison are now planning to get married next April in a ceremony conducted by her father, the Rev Bev Probert.

Lionel told the Daily Echo: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be home again – I missed Alison like you couldn’t believe.

“The difficulties I had obtaining my new visa were very stressful and we’re both overjoyed that I’m back. The welcome I’ve had since I returned has been fantastic.”

Alison, a teacher at Oakmead College of Technology in Bournemouth, added: “It was torture waiting to find out if he was coming home.”

Lionel has lived in the UK since 2009 and used to run a hardware shop in Milford.

His original application to remain in this country was rejected after officials said he failed to submit enough evidence to justify a new visa.

But the decision was overturned by a review panel following a campaign led by New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne and county councillor Mel Kendal, who lives in Milford.

Cllr Kendal said: “I’m very grateful to the authorities for seeing sense.

“This was a very genuine case involving someone who has been living in the UK for some time. The original application was rejected because certain details were not included and there was a misunderstanding.”

The couple plan to marry at Canford Magna, near Poole, with a reception in Milford.

Comments (2)

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4:06pm Fri 13 Dec 13

AndyAndrews says...

Yet another example of our inglorious border officials clamping down on an easy target - a white couple - while doing little to stop the flood coming in from the Third World. I also have a young white British female friend married to a charming white US citizen who has been refused a visa to join her. And no, I'm not being a racist.
Yet another example of our inglorious border officials clamping down on an easy target - a white couple - while doing little to stop the flood coming in from the Third World. I also have a young white British female friend married to a charming white US citizen who has been refused a visa to join her. And no, I'm not being a racist. AndyAndrews

3:38am Sun 15 Dec 13

Someone_New says...

AndyAndrews wrote:
Yet another example of our inglorious border officials clamping down on an easy target - a white couple - while doing little to stop the flood coming in from the Third World. I also have a young white British female friend married to a charming white US citizen who has been refused a visa to join her. And no, I'm not being a racist.
Hehe it is funny when someone who is being racist always tries to defend themselves by saying something like "but I'm not being racist, I know loads of black people etc. etc.".

Actually though, you are accusing UKBA of being racist. There was no need to refer to skin colour to make a point. You could have said something like that, in your opinion, they seem to be accept third world refugees easier than better-off, first world spousal visa applicants. See? Isn't that better? Now people might actually listen to your point of view, instead of thinking we just have someone here who is trying to play that "inverse-racism" card.
[quote][p][bold]AndyAndrews[/bold] wrote: Yet another example of our inglorious border officials clamping down on an easy target - a white couple - while doing little to stop the flood coming in from the Third World. I also have a young white British female friend married to a charming white US citizen who has been refused a visa to join her. And no, I'm not being a racist.[/p][/quote]Hehe it is funny when someone who is being racist always tries to defend themselves by saying something like "but I'm not being racist, I know loads of black people etc. etc.". Actually though, you are accusing UKBA of being racist. There was no need to refer to skin colour to make a point. You could have said something like that, in your opinion, they seem to be accept third world refugees easier than better-off, first world spousal visa applicants. See? Isn't that better? Now people might actually listen to your point of view, instead of thinking we just have someone here who is trying to play that "inverse-racism" card. Someone_New

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