AN American woman left in limbo after Home Office delays to her visa application has finally had her paperwork approved - following intervention by the Glasgow Times.

Carly Bach was left unable to work, access healthcare, vote or leave the country after a 17 week wait for her spousal visa after marrying now-husband Jamie Kempton on January 8.

Despite paying more than £4000 to complete the visa process, Carly's application was affected by delays and errors, leaving her unable to "become a fully functioning member of society".

But just hours after the Glasgow Times contacted the Home Office, the 28-year-old received confirmation her visa had been approved.

The Home Office admitted there had been a backlog caused by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and said a "small final cohort" is still being processed.

Carly said: "During the process, you feel like the government has you imprisoned, for want of a better phrase.

"I was solely and completely dependent on my husband. I always joked that I was like a 1950s housewife - I wanted to be able to work and to go out and make friends and get my life started.

"When I saw the email my initial response was, 'Shall we print this off and frame it?'

"I feel like we still haven't fully been able to process it.

"We don't have to stress out any more, we are in the clear and we can finally start living our normal lives again."

Carly and Jamie

Carly and Jamie

Carly and Jamie met in 2018 when she was travelling around Scotland during a visit from her home state of Wisconsin.

She said: "He showed me around Glasgow and it was such a fun time as an American abroad.

"I saw the university and thought, 'How cool would it be to go to school here?' I loved Scotland, I loved Glasgow and I knew I would love to go back."

Carly returned to the city to study for a Masters in Management and Sustainable Tourism at Glasgow University, graduating in December 2019.

She let Jamie, 31, know she was back in the city and the two began a relationship.

In February last year, Carly returned to Wisconsin just as the pandemic started to take hold and international travel slowed down.

The couple did not see each other for nine months but knew they wanted to be together so Carly decided to move to Scotland.

In August 2020 they started the fiancee visa process and Carly and Jamie were reunited when she arrived back in Glasgow on November 30.

Carly said: "It was tough being apart. We had a lot of phone calls and I moved my schedule to adapt to the UK time zone so I was awake when Jamie was.

"Even when we could technically have travelled we chose not to because we were being very careful and deemed it to be too much of a risk.

"We just tried to remind ourselves that it was all completely out of our control.

"Once the wedding was booked, knowing we had something to look forward to was a big help."

Carly and Jamie married on January 8 in Helensburgh with two witnesses, Jamie's mum and his cousin.

They had planned a small wedding from the start and were delighted that the tightening covid restrictions still allowed for weddings to go ahead.

Carly added: "It was a perfectly sunny day, which is as lucky as you can get in Scotland in January."

She filled in the online visa application on January 14 and then had an appointment to complete her biometrics on February 10.

At the end of March the Home Office contacted her asking for more information.

She said: "I responded immediately to that email but heard nothing so I contacted my MP and they were told the Home Office was still waiting for this piece of information.

"I knew I had already supplied it so I called to escalate my case and then would wait and then call to escalate and then wait.

"I asked my MP to call again for me and it turned out somebody else needed more evidence on their application and they got us mixed up.

"Then I was really concerned - is my name on the application? How do we trust they have my application under the right name? They have given us no reason to trust them."

Spousal visa applications made from within the UK should take approximately eight weeks but Carly was on week 17 and her fiancee visa had expired.

She said: "I had no rights. I couldn't work, I couldn't study, I couldn't volunteer, I couldn't access health care, I couldn't vote.

"If you were pregnant and trying to go to the doctor you would have to pay out of pocket so you have to put your entire life on hold.

"I also couldn't leave the country so if anything happened I would have to choose between family or waiting for my application."

It was also not clear whether Carly would be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination.

Meanwhile, the Home Office had restarted its fast track system which allows applicants to pay an extra £800 for a quick decision.

That system had stopped due to the pandemic but restarted in March - only for new applicants.

Carly said: "My mental health had been rapidly deteriorating throughout this seemingly never-ending ordeal and my entire savings had also gone towards the process."

A Home Office spokesman said additional staff had been hired to speed up the application process.

He said: "The Coronavirus pandemic had an impact on some services we operated during 2020 but we adapted our working practices in order to minimise waiting times.

"The vast majority of these applications have been decided and a small final cohort are in the process of being completed - all service standards for new applications are back in place.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

"Ms Bach's application has been granted and she has been informed of this decision today."

Anyone with an urgent case can contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team helpline on 0300 790 6268.