Visa decision could bring sad end to love story
SEVEN years ago, Jessica Cole hopped off a plane for a new adventure and to take a chance on love.
But now, due to an administrative error in her visa application the home and family she's found in Allora could all be taken away.
"I'm originally from Cincinatti Ohio, and I met my husband online believe it or not ten years ago," Mrs Cole said.
"I came for a visit and, we realised it was the real deal and he asked me to marry him."
Mrs Cole, 46, came to Australia on a visitor's Visa in 2013 with her son who was nine at the time.
She and her husband Mick built a life together, while she went through motions of the permanent visa application process and they got married.
"They told me to apply for two at once, a temporary partner visa, then you apply for a permanent visa," she said.
"We were told the temporary visa would last two years to make sure the relationship would last and then we were told after that time the permanent visa would take approximately two years to process."
But the couple continued to hear nothing for six years, with Mrs Cole needing to return to the US every three months in the beginning.
All up, they spent almost $10,000 on the process.
"It is literally like being in limbo," she said.
"People think if you marry someone in Austrlia then you can stay, but there's a chance you can be ripped apart at any moment."
On December 23, Mrs Cole finally received the decision.
Her application was rejected, on the basis that her medical exam was out of date.
"I wasn't told to renew it, and I had it in 2014," she said.
"If they'd processed it by the time they said they would, I'd have been fine."
Mrs Cole is now preparing to appeal, which she will have 21 days to do, but the Christmas period has meant she has less time.
"You're sitting there thinking somebody who's never met you is sitting in an office making an arbitrary decision about your life," she said.
"My husband is sick, he's on the transplant list for a new liver, my son is now 15, he has grown up here and has a life here and plans for the future."
"I work two jobs, I am heavily involved in the community, this is my home, this is my life, our life."
Mrs Cole said the outpouring of support she's had from her family and wider community has spurred her on to appeal the decision.
"I'm hopeful because it was an administrative thing, that we can work it out and with the support I've had, its been invaluable," she said.
"Everyone's determined, I love everything about here."
"I'm not going home because I am home."