When church pastor Robert Cooper was told his beloved wife of 13 years could not join him back in the UK because of new immigration rules, he said his life had been ‘ripped apart’.
But now after six months away from each other the pair are back in each other’s arms and temporarily reunited – and have vowed to continue their fight to be together.
Mr Cooper immediately fell in love with his wife-to-be Adna, aged 35, while he was working as a missionary in Sao Paulo and after six months he married her at Kingswinford Christian Centre, before the pair worked and settled in the region for three years.
But after returning to the South American country for nine years to teach English at a private school and then run a church, Mr Cooper, aged 38, was told by the Borders Agency that he could not bring back his wife to the United Kingdom.
The problem lies with new immigration rules introduced last July which mean only British people who show they have earned more than £18,600 a year can sponsor their non-European spouse’s visa.
Mr Cooper was earning more than the required amount – but because the First Renewal Presbyterian Church is a non-profit organisation, he cannot get payslips for the application, in order to prove his earnings.
The authorities have now let Mrs Cooper return to the Black Country for six months only on a tourist’s visa while the couple appeal the original decision and make a new application to the Home Office.
They are hoping to win their battle by arguing that the rules breach the human rights by keeping them apart.
Mr Cooper, who returned to live with his parents Robert and Katherine in Comber Drive, Pensnett, in March, said: “We are just overjoyed to be back together but there is still a long way to go so we just need to keep fighting. It has been really tough. We have been talking on Skype a lot and we have had to stay strong. Sometimes we have felt like no-one out there is listening to us. We have written letters to ministers and even members of the House of Lords but had no replies.
“It is totally unjust. We know this is only temporary but we just want to enjoy it for now.” Mr Cooper worked as a teacher in Osasco before joining the First Renewal Presbyterian Church in the city as a pastor. Last year he accepted a job to set up an English speaking church in London.
He moved over and assumed his wife, aged 34, would be following after submitting an application for an indefinite visa for her – but the visa was rejected and the pair have been split apart.
Mr Cooper was brought up in Pensnett, attending Pensnett School as a child. He worked for Laidler Steels before heading out on church mission for Kingswinford Christian Centre in 1999 and meeting Adna. The pair married six months later. Mrs Cooper worked at the former Kwik Save in Pear Tree Lane in Dudley before the couple moved to Sao Paulo.
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