A RETIRED woman hoping to settle in Hereford with her husband of 45 years has been told she faces the possibility of permanent expulsion from the UK.

Maria Summers, 66, has been at the centre of an immigration battle after being refused a permanent UK Visa last year as officials didn't believe she was in an "affectionate relationship".

This week, despite a three-hour interrogation at Heathrow Airport, she was allowed into the UK until the summer meaning she saw her husband, David Summers, for the first time in a year.

However, the Canadian was told she would not be allowed to step foot in the UK again if her second visa application is rejected.

"It makes you feel like a criminal or an unwanted person," said Mrs Summers, who is Dutch-born but has been a regular visitor to the UK since the 1970s.

"To be told you are not wanted in a country is hard to take."

She says despite the news there was "a lot of relief" when border officials finally let her go on Monday and make her way to Hereford.

"I was very happy to see my husband again," she said.

"I convinced myself it would be okay but then they looked at my passport and took me to one side.

"I have to leave by August 23. If I don't have a visa by that time then I will not be able to return."

Mrs Summers, who worked in Canada as an optician before carrying out consultancy work, plans to spend the coming days relaxing with her English husband.

"We spoke on the phone many times each day, but nothing is the same as being next to him," she added.

The couple, who got together in 1966, have their own house on Holme Lacy Road in Hereford and have a son who has his own British passport.

They decided to leave Canada to care for Mr Summers' elderly mother in England.

Among the reasons for the original visa decline was that the couple failed to prove that they were in an “affectionate relationship” or that their marriage was genuine – despite the fact that the pair are closing in on their golden anniversary. The decision is being appealed.

"It's just a matter of what the judge says now," added Mr Summers, who turns 70 this month.

"The support for us has been phenomenal.

"At the moment though we are not even concerned about what will happen. We're just enjoying each other's company again."

The matter has been raised with Hereford MP Jesse Norman who said the couple have been treated "outrageously" by border and immigration staff.