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Woman’s visa relief over Uzbekistan funeral plans

Richard Kingston with wife Mariya and daughter Anna Marie seen at Stonehenge Image copyright Richard Kingston
Image caption Richard Kingston and wife Mariya moved to Wales with their daughter Anna Marie, in 2017

A woman who feared she may not be able to attend her mother’s funeral in Uzbekistan due to a visa delay has been granted Home Office approval.

Mariya Kingston, 45, from Pontyclun, wanted to visit her mother when she was “very unwell” but a visa did not come and her mother died last week.

Without written permission, there were concerns she may not have been allowed back into the UK if she attends the funeral on Saturday.

But her visa has finally arrived.

Mrs Kingston will catch a plane at 18:00 GMT on Friday after collecting her passport the same morning – and said she was “so thankful” she would be able to pay her respects to her late mother Nadejda Chernenok, who died after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I’m so happy, I’m relieved about my passport, and I’m very sad to go and bury my mum,” she said.

“It’s very difficult but I want to say to everybody thank you very much.”

Her husband Richard Kingston, 56, added: “It’s like a dream, I’ll be taking her to the airport.

“It’s a difficult process, but if you follow the rules and processes and procedures I guess you get through it.

“The fact they took the time to deal with my wife’s issue which just says to me there some humanity in the Home Office.”

Image copyright Richard Kingston
Image caption Mrs Kingston’s mother died last week after being diagnosed with cancer

Mrs Kingston married her British husband in 2008 in Dubai where they lived and worked, and was initially given leave to stay in the UK on a family visa in 2016.

They moved to Wales in 2017 and she has been seeking permission for permanent residency since then – this approval opens the pathway for that.

Mr Kingston added he was grateful to the couple’s local MP, Owen Smith, who took up their case and contacted the Home Secretary on Monday.

At the time, the Home Office said applications needed “sufficient scrutiny”.

Nearly 90,000 people signed an online petition calling on the Home Office to urgently issue the visa and passport.

Mrs Kingston, a qualified nurse who is not allowed to work, faced the dilemma of being permanently separated from her daughter and husband if she returned to Uzbekistan for the funeral.

In Uzbekistan, the government only hold the body of the deceased for seven days so the funeral could not be postponed.

An initial bid for residency was rejected because Mr Kingston was deemed capable of raising their nine-year-old daughter Anna alone, and Mrs Kingston was advised to return to Uzbekistan to appeal against the decision, Mr Kingston said.

But that would have meant leaving her daughter and Mr Kingston behind for up to two years – which she was not prepared to do – and Mr Kingston would have to give up his job to care for Anna meaning they would then fail the income section of the application.

A Home Office spokesman said it tried to process all visa applications quickly.

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