Woman forced to celebrate wedding without partner after visa issues kept him 4,000 miles away
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A wife was forced to celebrate her wedding without her husband after visa delays stopped them from being together.
Hazel Taylor (38) was surprised that she only 'cried twice' as she enjoyed her wedding party without her husband Kareem Kowaitly (34).
The pair married in April, but due to visa delays and family travel plans, they were kept 4,000 miles apart.
The couple met in Abu Dhabi when Hazel left her job as a nurse in an attempt to save up money for a house.
"I love the NHS but it doesn't pay enough," Hazel explained of her move from the UK. “My plan was to work in Abu Dhabi for a year and save for a house deposit.
“Then Covid happened, and it was bad from a travel point of view.
"All of our leave got cancelled, we couldn't travel and we got hit with mandatory overtime, but the one good thing was I met my husband."
The couple were incredibly happy and on a holiday to Norfolk last year, Kareem proposed.
However, it wasn't exactly a happily ever after as the pair struggled to find somewhere to get married.
They couldn't get married in the UAE because Hazel was not a Muslim and the UK stopped them from getting married because Kareem hadn't lived in Britain for the minimum six months required.
So, the couple settled on marrying in Georgia, due to the lack of restrictions, and tied the knot in front of a herd of cows, as you do.
They were looking forward to celebrating and coming back to Hazel's home town of Gillingham.
They'd arranged to host their wedding party with their friends and family on the 3 September, assuming that there was more than enough time for Kareem's visa to be approved.
Things didn't quite go to plan, with Hazel explaining: "When we applied for a visa decision, the waiting time was 12 weeks.
“Our plan was that even if he got rejected, he would be able to get a tourist visa for the wedding, but we didn't even get a decision.
"The visa didn't get processed in time - nothing happened at all."
Unfortunately, though Kareem couldn't attend, Hazel's other friends and family could.
"My dad had flown over from Australia and other people had travelled from Europe, so we just had a party.
"I made the wedding cake into cupcakes and turned the flower bouquet into a flower arch, and I drank lots of tequila.
"I tried not to cry and think I only cried twice."
What upset Hazel most was that they thought the visa would be quickly approved: "If it was a complex situation I would understand. It just seems unfair."
She went on to explain that Kareem, who works for Abercrombie and Fitch, was able to get an employee transfer to the UK and had savings, so was unsure what provoked the delay.
However, when she contacted her local MP Rehman Chishti to discuss the matter, he told her that the wait had been upped from 12 to 24 weeks.
A Home Office spokesperson said of the situation: "All visa applications are carefully considered on their own merits and we endeavour to consider them as quickly as possible."