Woman threatened with 10-year UK travel ban finally has work visa approved


New Plymouth woman Abbey Looker, pictured with her father, Grant, has been allowed back into the UK after a visa botch-up.

A woman left stranded in Berlin and facing a 10-year ban from Britain because of a visa delay is finally free to enter the UK.

Abbey Looker has been living in the German capital for the past two weeks after being detained by border guards at Gatwick Airport on her return to London from a short holiday in Spain.

The 29-year-old, from New Plymouth, was notified this week by the Home Office that the tier five use mobility work visa application, which she had filled out online in May from New Zealand, had been approved.

Once the visa was processed she intended to return to London, she posted on Facebook.

* UK Home Office mounts ‘urgent review’ of New Plymouth woman’s visa application

* New Plymouth woman facing 10 year ban from UK after visa application goes wrong
* UK visa woes leaves Kiwis in limbo and out of pocket
* UK minister apologies for visa woes

Looker had been threatened with a 10 year ban on visiting the UK after she was accused of making a false declaration on her return from Spain.

Looker was travelling on a six-month holiday visa as a result of the delay in receiving confirmation of the work visa application, and had legally entered the UK several weeks beforehand.

But confused immigration officials at Gatwick alleged she had failed to declare the application for a work visa on her re-entry to the UK, and believed she intended to overstay her holiday visa.

She was detained at the airport and flown back to Spain from where she flew onto Berlin to stay with friends, and employed an immigration lawyer to help.

Looker estimated the time delay in having her work visa application processed had cost her $10,000.

The Home Office informed Stuff last week that Looker’s case was being treated with urgency.

Visa woes have become more common for NZ travellers to the UK since the central processing office was shifted from Manila to Sheffield, England.

The problem was addressed by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on a visit to NZ this week.

Johnson said the UK wanted to ensure “talented, energetic” NZers could travel to the UK as “smoothly as possible.”

Looker said she would need to wait several weeks for the visa to be completed before she could fly back to London.

She intended to live and work in London after several months holiday visiting European countries, she posted on her Facebook page.

 – Taranaki Daily News

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