Family set to be reunited after visa wrangle

A family forced to live thousands of miles apart by immigration officials were last night celebrating the news they have been desperately waiting for.

A family forced to live thousands of miles apart by immigration officials were last night celebrating the news they have been desperately waiting for.

Following 10 months apart due to a visa wrangle, former British soldier Darren Jarrad is to be reunited with his Canadian wife Chantel and two-year-old daughter Shyanne.

Mr Jarrad, who fought with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been embroiled in a bitter row with the UK Border Agency since it refused his wife and daughter's visa application last August.

The refusal was made on the grounds that Mrs Jarrad would be a drain on public funds by claiming benefits - despite the fact she fully intended to work while in Norfolk.

Their case was picked up by the EDP, his local MP and local councillor, who argued that the refusal was 'dismal payback' for someone who had fought for his country.

But over the weekend there was welcome news for Mr Jarrad, from Felmingham, near North Walsham, after an email to his wife confirmed a second visa application had been successful.

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Mr Jarrad plans to fly out to Canada on April 1 and bring Chantel and Shyanne back with him on April 7 so the family will be reunited in time for their first wedding anniversary, in April - which is also the month of both Chantel and Shyanne's birthdays.

A delighted Mr Jarrad, 28, said last night: 'I do not know what to say - I am overjoyed. It is Chantel's birthday on April 1 and although we have been together for four years, we have never been able to celebrate either her birthday or mine together.

'It has been tough being apart for so long, not seeing each other and not seeing my daughter.

'I do feel I have been let down by my country, it should not have taken this long to come to the decision, but I am just happy it has now been made.

'Something needs to be done about the system, if you met a girl while you are away fighting for your country, there needs to be some way to make things easier, no one should have to go through what we have.'

The couple met in 2006 while Mr Jarrad, a former Royal Anglian infantryman who now works for a floor restoration company, was on a training exercise in Canada. Their daughter was born in 2007.

Plans to move the family to England began soon after they were married in April 2009, however because of the visa wrangle Mr Jarrad has seen his family just twice in the last 10 months.

Their story was first featured in the EDP in August and immediately a campaign was launched to help reunite the family.

The second application was paid for thanks to the generosity of Norfolk people who took just days to raise �1,500 following an appeal by North Norfolk MP, Norman Lamb and county councillor for the south Smallburgh division, Paul Rice.

A Facebook group, Support Darren Jarrad, was also set up.

Mrs Jarrad, 24, has confirmation of a job offer at specialist Wroxham care home, Keys Hill Park, after Dennis Bacon, who is managing director of the care home, heard of the couple's plight in the EDP and interviewed Chantel on an internet link across the Atlantic and offered her a job.

Although the UK Border Agency was not available for comment, an email sent from them to Mrs Jarrad confirms permission has been granted.

She received the email on Friday and says she is still in state of shock, although she has already started packing up some things and sorting things ready to go.

She told the EDP: 'My first reaction was one of total shock as this application had not taken very long at all, but we are very, very happy.

'It has been incredibly hard while we have been apart not knowing if we would ever be together and what we would have to do next. It has been hard for Shyanne as well having to get used to not having her daddy around.'

Commenting on the u-turn, a delighted Mr Rice said: 'I am over the moon. I know what Darren has been going through because I had the same situation with my eldest daughter.

'The EDP campaign has really helped with this as well, and the fact that so much was raised within just a few days.'

Mr Lamb added: 'This is a triumph, I am absolutely delighted, this has been a long time coming, it should not have been necessary to have to send in a second application, the visa should have been granted the first time.'