A RETIRED Herefordshire couple kept thousands of miles apart because of a visa row can finally be reunited.

Maria Summers, 67, was effectively barred from the UK last August when she was forced to return to her home in Canada after her temporary visa expired.

It left her 71-year-old British-born husband David, currently undergoing chemotherapy for bladder cancer, alone in the Holme Lacy house they had planned to retire to in 2014 before border officials refused her a permanent visa after the couple decided to emigrate from Canada to be near Mr Summers' poorly mother.

The decision meant they spent 12 months without seeing each other, with UK Visas and Immigration officials even questioning whether they were in an "affectionate relationship" or that their marriage was genuine.

But Mrs Summers has now been granted a Right to Abode, meaning she is free to enter and live in the UK for the next ten years.

"It's a great relief," said Mr Summers.

"We've been married for 46 years and my birthday in March was the first one we have not spent together.

"I have my chemo, then go back to an empty house. We talk a lot on the phone but it's not the same."

He said he plans to travel to Canada in July to pick her up, but added his wife is still a bit dubious about entering the UK because of the recent history.

The couple's woes began in March 2014 when, while returning to the UK from a break in Malta, Mrs Summers was told she had overstayed a temporary visa by four days and that she would have to return to Canada immediately.

Once back in North America, Mrs Summers applied for a visa to live in Britain but immigration officials snubbed the request on the grounds the couple had not proven they had an affectionate relationship, leaving her limited to short temporary visa visits.

The matter even reached the House of Commons with Prime Minister David Cameron promising to look into the matter having been pressed by Hereford MP Jesse Norman.

Mr Norman has said he's delighted by the news.

"I’m delighted that David and Maria can carry on their lives in Herefordshire together," he said.

"This has been a long and frustrating struggle, and it has gone on for far too long. But this decision now means Maria has the right to enter the country again and remain in the UK for at least ten years.

"It's not yet a permanent solution, but it is a huge step forward."

Mr Summers says more needs to be done for those in a similar situation as him and his wife, adding he has received many emails from those in a similar boat.

"There's a lot of things that need to be looked at," he said.