An Australian gay man and his British partner have amassed more than 80,000 signatures for a Change.org petition calling on the UK to make its visa application process “fair and transparent”.

Rusty Goodall and Stephen Buck created the petition in May after waiting almost one year for an outcome on Goodall’s own visa application, during which time he was unable to work or leave the country.

Then, in July, his application was rejected by the Home Office and he was given one month to leave the country and head back to Australia.

“This is ruining our lives,” he told PinkNews.

Goodall, who visited the UK on multiple occasions over the past six years, met and fell in love with Buck during his travels, before successfully receiving an entrepreneur visa that was valid until March last year.

He then submitted a request for a family visa to extend his stay in the UK “on grounds of private life in the UK”, which required the couple to have lived together for at least two years.

However, the Home Office said there was insufficient evidence to support their claim and that the earliest date they could verify the couple’s co-habitation was January 2016, despite a 2015 Instagram post which indicated that they’d moved in together in February of that year.

Goodall could appeal the decision in six months’ time, but would have to do so from Australia. Alternatively, he could marry Buck in Australia. He’d then be able to apply again for a visa, but still with no certainty of being allowed in the country.

As part of the couple’s petition, they’ve called on Home Office and Secretary of State Sajid Javid to “explain to us why he believes the Home Office has the right to treat visa applicants the way they have done in our case”.

Buck was also allegedly blocked on Twitter by UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes after repeatedly asking her for assistance with Goodall’s visa application.

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