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Ex-soldier is 'forced out' of UK to be with his wife; Falklands veteran and family in Home Office visa wrangle.

Byline: Mike Lockley Features

AFALKLANDS War veteran has made the decision to move his children to The Far East after his Chinese wife was barred from living here.

And Gary Walsh has slammed the government for blocking wife of 17 years Xia Zhao's return to the UK.

The 53-year-old former squaddie said: "Theresa May has no respect for marriages and families.

"With Brexit, she pledged families would not be split-up, which is something I agree with.

"But I'm British, my children are British and we have gone to the back of the line. I have no loyalty left for this country.

"We talk about Donald Trump building walls, but we're building walls here, too."

Xia Zhio came to Britain in August 2015, on a 12-month visa following news Mr Walsh's father was gravely ill. She travelled with her husband and their two children, 16-year-old Daniel and Mei Li, 13, and the family set-up home in Amington, Tamworth.

The couple were married in Dubai in 2000 and had been working in Johoe Bahru, Malaysia, before making the mercy dash home. The former soldier with the Royal Signals taught English abroad, Xia Zhio, 44, is an accountant.

In May 2016, Xia's application to stay and work in the UK on human rights grounds was rejected. The decision meant she was unable to gain employment - or even carry out voluntary work.

Mr Walsh, originally from Pype Hayes, Birmingham, alleges the government advised his wife to return to her family in Shandong Province, Eastern China, and re-apply for a "spouse visa".

She flew out in June 2016, believing the paperwork would be a formality.

To date, Xia Zhio has made four applications at PS3,000 a throw.

The Home Office's refusal to accept her accountancy qualifications and her own refusal to be inoculated for TB, which she feels unnecessary, have proved barriers. For a year, he has been left to look after the children. Now he plans to leave Britain within weeks.

"We never thought there would be a problem, we have been naive," said Mr Walsh.

"We thought we were doing things the right way. This has cost us PS9,000 and we simply don't have any money left.

"We no longer have a choice, we are going and not coming back. We have been apart for one year, that is the longest time we've been apart.

"It has been bloody awful. Our son Daniel keeps himself to himself, but Mei Li broke down in school. She is in bits.

"People have said, 'but you fought in the Falklands'. It means nothing. I have lost all hope.

"The way we have been treated is disgraceful. The colleagues I served with in the Falklands simply can't believe what has happened.

"There are many, many servicemen in this country with wives they met in Hong Kong."

After weeks with her family in China, Xia Zhio found part-time accountancy work in Dubai, where she is currently staying. Mr Walsh and the children flew out to be reunited with her at Christmas and Easter.

He now has two options: moving to China or upping sticks to Myanmar, formerly Burma, where he has the offer of a teaching job. The latter seems most likely.

On February 18, 2016, the Home Office informed Xia Zhao: "You were fully aware when establishing any private life or ties in the UK that you would not be remaining in the UK indefinitely on your current visa.

"In any case, you can maintain contact with friends and relatives via modern means of communication from China."

The Home Office stressed it had not been heartless.

It added: "All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.

"Certain nationalities, including China, do need a tuberculosis test if coming to the UK for more than sixmonths from an approved centre."

People have said, 'but you fought in the Falklands'. It means nothing. I have lost all hopeGary Walsh


<B Ex Falklands soldier and teacher Gary Walsh and his wife Xia Zhao
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 6, 2017
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