A father has said his family will be “torn apart” if his foreign-born wife loses a last- ditch fight to stay in the UK.
Emily Deane, 29, has been told she will be sent back to her native Philippines before the end of the month forcing her to decide whether to take her one-year-old daughter, Lucy, with her or leave her with husband Neil, who lives in Preston.
The UK Border Agency has questioned the validity of the couple’s marriage, which was carried out in the United Arab Emirates, where they lived, and even questioned whether their child even exists.
Immigration officials have also said Mrs Deane had applied for the wrong type of visa when the couple decided to remain in the UK last year. Today, the family has launched an appeal backed by hundreds who have rallied behind the popular Preston North End supporter and his wife.
The family, which includes the couple’s one-year-old daughter, Lucy, who is a British citizen, has less than a month to fight the move or face being separated, which the family believe is largely due to a visa mix-up.
Mr Deane, 34, who is living at his mother’s house in Seymour Road, Ashton, said sceptical immigration officials also questioned whether the couple really had a baby together: “It came as a complete shock. Our biggest fear was not having enough money to convince them I could support my family. To be told my marriage is not valid and that we are making up having a daughter is just crazy.
“I have very few choices – either let my wife go back to the Philippines where she hasn’t lived for the past eight years and take my child with her, keep my daughter here where I cannot look after her on my own or both of us move to the Philippines where we have no chance of getting work.
“Either way, my family gets torn apart.”
The couple have met a solicitor and launched an appeal against plans to kick Mrs Deane out of the country next Saturday when her visitor’s visa expires.
They had intended to remain in the UK for no more than six months when they arrived last September but, shortly after arriving, Mr Deane lost his sales job with a British medical company in the UAE.
Then the couple began applying for Mrs Deane to receive permanent residency to remain in the country with her husband and daughter last November. On Monday, they were told this had been rejected.
The couple have a wedding certificate and a birth certificate for Lucy, which the Evening Post has seen. Preston MP Mark Hendrick said the couple had been badly advised and should have applied for a spouse visa.
He said: “It is extremely unfortunate Mr Deane has lost his job in the UAE while his wife was over here on a visitor’s visa. Had he been better informed, he would have applied for a spouse’s visa when he originally married Emily in the UAE, which would have enabled her to remain in the country until she could apply for permanent residency. Unfortunately, her only option now is to leave the country before her visitor’s visa expires otherwise she will not be able to return to the country for 10 years.”
Drew Gale, a member of Preston Council, has stepped in. He said: “The laws under which this is being carried out are used by criminals and terrorists to stay in this country and yet here is a hard -working, family man who is a British citizen and has a child who is a British citizen, and the UK Border Agency wants to rip the family apart.”
The couple, who paid £561 for the visa application and another £120 for their appeal, first met in 2006 in the UAE and lived together in the emirate of Ajman, where they married in October 2011. They have also paid nearly £1,000 for legal advice. Mr Deane said: “My wife already has a visa to visit the UK which expires soon and I am told the main reason is because we have applied for a permanent visa from within the UK. I can only assume they have thrown all this other nonsense at us about the marriage not being valid and saying we ‘claim’ to have a daughter to back themselves up. If they don’t believe I have a daughter, I’ll take her along to meet them – and take a dirty nappy with me.”
The UK Border Agency said it was not able to comment on individual cases.