Couples who have been separated due to COVID-related travel restrictions are urging governments around the world to do more so they can be reunited.
Iain Martin, 45, from Colchester in Essex, married his American fiancee Puja 19 months ago but was only able to spend a few weeks with her.
He applied for an American green card and returned to England to wait for this to happen, but then the pandemic struck and they only saw each other face to face once.
“We were still waiting for my green card to come, something we thought was a pretty quick process, and then COVID hit,” he told Sky News.
“It’s not easy. We’re in constant contact with each other, but there are things we would like to do, like start a family that have been put on hold.
“It’s getting harder and harder to convince yourself that things are going to work out. There must be so many people in the world who have been broken by this and are struggling to keep going on a daily basis.
“I would politely ask President Biden if there are any exceptions that could be made. I’m not entirely convinced that I would bother asking the Prime Minister as he doesn’t seem to have a hand on the levers.”
Iain and Puja both work in the publishing industry and met at a book fair. He says “98%” of their relationship is now conducted via WhatsApp.
Puja is in Washington DC to prepare things for the day they can finally be together.
“I bought this condo here as a home and fitted it out,” she said.
“But making all the decisions about color, flooring and how to furnish is really a challenge on your own when it should be for both of us.
“I try not to let the stress and tension creep in as it definitely overshadows the joy of having finally met the love of my life.
“I miss his smile. I miss his morning cup of tea. I miss sharing space with him.”
The Love Is Not Tourism organization has set up a global task force trying to reunite separated families.
They say 50% of their global community has not seen their partner since the start of the pandemic, with 87% saying they are now worried about their mental health due to their partner’s separation.
Steve Warner, an administrator for the organization, says they just want more freedom.
“We are told that everyone has to sacrifice themselves,” he told Sky News. “It’s very frustrating to be told that everyone has to sacrifice themselves by a group of people who don’t have to sacrifice themselves.
“They see their families every day when they return home. They see their husbands, wives and children every day.”
In a statement, the government said: “We recognize this is a difficult time, especially for people separated during the pandemic, and are working to balance the early reopening of international travel while protecting public health and vaccine deployment. “