'Heavy veil of darkness lifted': US woman reunited with Edinburgh husband after 2-year visa battle

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An American woman is preparing to be reunited with her Scottish husband - after a two-year visa battle left them living more than 3,000 miles apart.

Juli Duffy, 30, married husband Tony, 30, two years ago but had to return to the US last December to re-apply after her spousal visa application was rejected.

The Home Office said her husband, a self-employed plasterer from Edinburgh, did not meet the minimum income requirement.

The Home Office said Juli's husband, Tony, a self-employed plasterer from Edinburgh, did not meet the minimum income requirement. Picture: Juli Duffy/Gofundme

The Home Office said Juli's husband, Tony, a self-employed plasterer from Edinburgh, did not meet the minimum income requirement. Picture: Juli Duffy/Gofundme

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But on Tuesday morning, after a long, anxious fight to be together, Mrs Duffy sent a picture of her visa to Mr Duffy in Edinburgh as she couldn't contain her excitement.

Mrs Duffy, from Reading, Pennsylvania, said she has been "living in a haze" for the past year as her and her husband were forced to live apart.

She now plans to campaign to help other families in similar circumstances to her and her husband, after nearly 130,000 people signed a petition to help reunite them.

The couple also set up a Gofundme fundraiser urging friends and family to help them with their visa and legal fees.

Mrs Duffy said: "I am overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and I don't think I have stopped smiling since I opened that envelope and saw that I was finally granted my visa.
"I feel like I can finally breathe for the first time in almost three years.

"It felt like I was living in a haze for the last year being separated from Tony, like a heavy veil of darkness was covering me.

"Now, I'm excited for the future and to start my life with my husband."

Mr Duffy, who has suffered mental health problems through the stress of their battle, said: "We really appreciate the help we've received.

"Juli got an email on Friday to say a decision has been made and if she'd chosen to get her passport by post, it would be there by the next day.

"It didn't say anything about the decision, so we've been on edge for the past couple of days before UPS delivered it on Tuesday.

"I was hoping for the best but expecting another challenge.

"It's a huge weight lifted off our shoulders."

His wife said they had to put all their plans on hold, but added: "We can start saving to buy a house and actually starting planning on having a family.

"The things I'm most excited for, however, are things that most families probably take for granted - simple things such as waking up next to each other, eating dinner together, and actually being able to hold a conversation face to face.

"I never fully appreciated the everyday boring aspects of life with Tony because I never thought I'd be in a position where we were 3,000 miles away from each other."

Mrs Duffy said she was relieved she would now be able to work in Scotland.

She said: "For 15 years I was either studying full time, employed full time, or doing both, so not being able to work has been very rough for me.

"I'm excited to be able to put my degree to use, especially in one of the biggest cultural cities in the world.

"I also want to start practicing photography more and what better place to take pictures than the beautiful country of Scotland?

"I will continue to campaign, until every family who has been separated are finally together again.

"Tony and I may have won our battle, but there is still a war to fight."

Mr Duffy said they would have to reapply in 2022.

SNP: Couple's ordeal 'absolutely shocking'

Tommy Sheppard, the couple's SNP MP, said: "The ordeal that this young couple have been put through because of punitive Home Office policies is absolutely shocking.

"I really hope they're able to put all of that behind them and get on with building the rest of their lives together."

Damir Duheric, the couple's lawyer, said: "It is a great news.

"It is also a reminder that immigration is very complex and the rules are applied and interpreted strictly by the authorities.

"Unfortunately, in doing so the authorities often forget that behind each case there are people and families."

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