Friday 23 August 2019

'They are in danger every minute' - Cork man's plea to bring wife and daughter home from the Philippines

  • Mark Lane has not seen his wife Marjo or daughter Erin in nine months
  • Marjo is still awaiting visa approval to come to Ireland
  • Erin has an Irish passport
Mark Lane with his wife Marjo and daughter Erin
Mark Lane with his wife Marjo and daughter Erin

Evie Kearney

A Cork man has made a desperate plea for help to bring his wife and sick daughter home to Ireland from the Philippines after being told the visa process could take up to six months.

Mark Lane has not seen his wife Marjo or 11-month-old daughter Erin for nine months and fears they are “in danger every minute” as they await visa approval to come to Ireland.

He said the issue has become extremely urgent as the area where his wife and daughter are living in the Philippines has recently suffered a forest fire and two earthquakes.

“I’m in fear for them. Since May, they have no running water, they’ve to buy water to wash themselves," Mark explained.

“There was a forest fire 500 yards away and there were homes destroyed. A couple of weeks ago there was another small earthquake. The first one was a 6.2, the second was 4.8," he added.

On top of this, Mark said Erin currently has pneumonia that was originally feared to be Dengue fever – a mosquito-borne diseased that has claimed the lives of 622 people in the Philippines since January.

Mark Lane's daughter Erin
Mark Lane's daughter Erin

“She was sent to the hospital last week, thinking it was Dengue fever. Luckily it was pneumonia. The doctor said she got it because she sweats so much, she can’t handle the heat.

“She can’t go out in the sun past 8 in the morning, the doctor said it’s too strong for her. She’s on five doses on antibiotics and keeps getting colds.”

He said that while his daughter does have an Irish passport, he refuses to separate his wife and daughter as they are breastfeeding.

Mark met Marjo online and the two talked for six months before he decided to fly to meet her for a two week holiday.

"I couldn’t believe it because I would never do anything like that, I didn’t even dream about meeting someone so far but we clicked straight away," he said.

"I took the gamble and went over for a two week holiday and we fell in love. I knew straight away I wanted to marry her."

Mark Lane has already decorated his daughter's room in Cork
Mark Lane has already decorated his daughter's room in Cork

After the visit, the pair spent nine more months talking through Skype before Mr Lane decided to take a year of leave from his job to join her in the Philipines.

They got married in December 2017 and one week later Mark found out that his new wife was pregnant.

The newlyweds then spent four months in Australia to visit Mr Lane’s sister. The visa process for the visit took just two working days.

“When we applied for Australia we applied on the Friday and on the Monday we got accepted,” Mr Lane said.

“Then when we came back I went to apply for Marjo’s Irish visa and found out you need six months of bank statements, six months of payslips. The application was over a hundred pages.”

After Erin was born, Mr Lane was advised to return to Ireland alone to begin building a life for his new family, but it took him over four months alone to find the required permanent address in Cork, delaying the process further. 

According to Mr Lane, the couple then had to compile a mountain of paperwork, including flight and hotel receipts and screenshots of conversations to prove they were a legitimate couple, as well as verification letters from relatives.

His 11-month-old baby is currently suffering form pneumonia
His 11-month-old baby is currently suffering form pneumonia

“We’re madly in love with each other. We’re very lucky we documented everything on Facebook and YouTube. You can’t doctor that. We had to go back and screenshot everything.

“I came back in November and it took me until April to find a place in Cork. I was working overtime as much as I could building up the money and getting the paperwork together.”

The couple were eventually able to complete the visa application and received an application number at the end of June.

He said he is now working overtime to run two households while they wait for visa approval – one in Cork and one in the Philippines, where the electricity bill alone comes in at €110 per month.

“The time difference is seven hours so I’m up until one o’clock on Skype to them and up again for five in the morning for work," he said.

“I’m going home to an empty house where everything is ready for them."

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) aims to deal with all visa applications to join Irish citizens within six months.

However, they said the current average processing time is 15 weeks.

"In cases where there is an urgent need for an individual to join their family member, INIS of course consider all additional information provided and attempt to process these applications as quickly as possible, while ensuring all necessary processes are completed," they added.

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