LONDON: A wrestler who has won gold medals for Britain has hit out at the UK’s “cruel” immigration policy after his wife was refused a visa to enter the country.
Muhammad Mokaev, 20, fled persecution in his native Dagestan in Russia to settle in Britain in 2012, and had applied for a visa for his wife so that she could meet his father for the first time.
Mokaev, a professional wrestler, said he was “surprised” after the UK Home Office declined a visitor’s visa for Khava Eldarbekova in February, the Independent reported.
The Home Office said it was “not satisfied” Eldarbekova would leave the UK, as the couple had not provided enough evidence of sufficient ties to Russia, her home country, or Bahrain, where she resides.
The couple applied again, but were refused once more after she failed to “explain the source” of £4,884 ($6,756) in her bank account, which immigration officials said could have “been inflated for the purposes of obtaining an entry clearance.”
Mokaev said the money was” not criminal” and had been earned via a medical therapy job.
“It’s not a lot of money to hold on an account. It’s not criminal. We have no criminal record. She’s not going to stay in the UK illegally. We showed everything on the papers,” he said.
“And there was exactly the same amount of money in her bank account the first time but they didn’t include it in that refusal, only the second time it was an issue. Why didn’t they include it the first time?”
The six-time British wrestling champion told the Independent that the situation was impacting his ability to perform in the sport.
“It is very hard to stay focused with this situation going on and not knowing what’s going to happen,” he said.
“In March, I had a fight in Bahrain, but I had to be in a visa center in the morning. I missed the bus going to the arena. I was meant to be there for media, medicals and signings for sponsors, but I was in the visa center until 1 p.m to sort out the application. It was a headache,” he added.
The couple said they have spent £2,500 on submitting two applications, but with no right to appeal as per UK immigration rules, they warn that they face no choice but to try for a third time or give up.