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Visa wrangle couple finally back in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 10:05 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:01 07 July 2010

Andre Van Coller with his wife Helen and baby Ellie.

Andre Van Coller with his wife Helen and baby Ellie.

For months they could only dream about being together as a young family but now the Van Collers are overjoyed to have finally got their wish.

For the visa wrangle that had forced them to live half a world away from each other is finally over and South African diver Andre Van Coller is back where he belongs with his Norfolk wife Helen and their 16-week-old baby Ellie in Fulmodeston, near Fakenham.

For months they could only dream about being together as a young family but now the Van Collers are overjoyed to have finally got their wish.

For the visa wrangle that had forced them to live half a world away from each other is finally over and South African diver Andre Van Coller is back where he belongs with his Norfolk wife Helen and their 16-week-old baby Ellie in Fulmodeston, near Fakenham.

After months of heartache, with Mr Van Coller forced to miss the birth of baby Ellie and unable to be with his wife to share in those precious first few weeks of their daughter's life, their story now has a happy ending.

They are looking forward to the future, thinking about saving up to buy their first family home together, and getting excited about their first Christmas together as a young family.

“It's great. It is really exciting,” said Mr Van Coller, 28, and who is already back working with Little Fransham-based diving company Red 7 Marine.

“I am so relieved and so happy. We can start moving on now without worrying about visas.

“Everything can go back to normal. Thanks to Norman Lamb, the EDP and everybody who helped us,”

Mrs Van Coller, 27, added: “It is brilliant to have Andre back. I think Ellie is a lot happier and we are looking forward to our first Christmas together as a family.”

The Van Collers arrived back in Norfolk on Tuesday, November 10 after spending a month together in South Africa.

As previously reported Mrs Van Coller had travelled to her husband's native country in October where he met and held baby Ellie for the first time - a moment he described as one of the proudest moments of his life.

The couple's reunion was a double celebration because just the day before - and only hours before she boarded a plane to South Africa - Mrs Van Coller had received a letter stating that the decision to reject Mr Van Coller's application for a British visa had been withdrawn.

The couple met in the UK in February 2007 and got engaged in June last year. In November 2008 they found out Mrs Van Coller was pregnant but their good news was marred by the discovery that there was a problem with Mr Van Coller's visa.

He had wrongly thought his visa allowed him to work as a self-employed diver in the UK, and went back to South Africa last December to try and resolve the problem.

The couple, who married in South Africa in March, had been battling with immigration red tape ever since. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb had pledged his support to their campaign and wrote a letter to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal on their behalf.

Last month they had been expecting to find out a date for their appeal against Mr Van Coller's visa being rejected, and they were ecstatic when instead they were told there would be no appeal because Mr Van Coller was finally allowed to come home.


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