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Manningtree couple speak of anguish after over wife's deportation threat

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:42 04 May 2018

Dean and Grace Smith, who have been together for more than a decade, lived in China until 2015 when they returned to the UK to help Mr Smith's father, who fell seriously ill. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Dean and Grace Smith, who have been together for more than a decade, lived in China until 2015 when they returned to the UK to help Mr Smith's father, who fell seriously ill. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The husband of a woman threatened with deportation has said he feels “ashamed of his own country” after Home Office chiefs threw out her VISA application.

Dean and Grace Smith, from Manningtree, are pursuing another VISA appeal after their first two attempts were rejected. Picture: GREGG BROWNDean and Grace Smith, from Manningtree, are pursuing another VISA appeal after their first two attempts were rejected. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Dean and Grace Smith, who live in Manningtree, returned to the UK in 2015 after Mr Smith’s father fell seriously ill.

The pair met in China more than 10 years ago, having both worked for a technology company there.

But now Chinese national Mrs Smith, who was granted leave to remain when she arrived, has had two VISA applications refused.

The 34-year-old is still waiting to hear back about a third, but said she feels “humiliated” – and as if she doesn’t want to stay in the UK.

Home Office chiefs refused Mrs Smith’s initial bid for a VISA in February.

A second application submitted two days later was thrown out in March, on the grounds the couple failed to meet financial requirements.

The second refusal letter warned Mrs Smith she had 14 days before she was deported.

Now a third, fresh bid has been submitted, Mrs Smith will not face deportation until a final decision is made.

Dean and Grace Smith, who live in Manningtree, have spoken of their anguish after Grace was threatened with deportation. Picture: GREGG BROWNDean and Grace Smith, who live in Manningtree, have spoken of their anguish after Grace was threatened with deportation. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“I just feel like I am being rejected,” she said.

“It makes me feel humiliated, and like I don’t want to stay.

“They kept my passport, so we can’t go anywhere and I can’t decide to go home even if I wanted to.”

Her husband, who is 53, added: “I just think, shame on them.

“I understand that immigration is an important issue, but we are not abusing any system.

“It is the most ruthless and callous application process I’ve ever been through.

“It’s really disappointing and I feel ashamed of my own country for doing this.

“It makes me upset, more than anything.”

Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin penned a letter to the Home Office about the couple's case. Picture: PAGEPIXHarwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin penned a letter to the Home Office about the couple's case. Picture: PAGEPIX

To stay in the UK, the couple must earn a combined £18,600 – Mrs Smith is in full-time, salaried employment, while her husband is a self-employed personal trainer.

The pair told the Home Office they earned more than the required amount, but this claim was rejected.

According to the department’s analysis, the couple did not meet the threshold.

Mrs Smith also had a job offer which she claims would have allowed her to earn enough by herself – but this has now expired, as it relied on the positive outcome of the second VISA bid.

Home Office bosses confirmed Mrs Smith’s application for leave to remain as a spouse was refused in March.

They also said a further submission remains under consideration.

MP’s letter to Home Office

Tendring district councillor Carlo Guglielmi has been supporting the couple.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTendring district councillor Carlo Guglielmi has been supporting the couple. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr and Mrs Smith said they are thankful for the support of local councillors Carlo and Val Guglielmi, who have submitted various documents about the case.

The couple’s MP, Bernard Jenkin, wrote to the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd in April.

His letter states: “The decision not to give weight to this information on the last application has left Mr and Mrs Smith in a very difficult position.

“They must now consider leaving the country to maintain their marriage, which would result in the loss of a local business which works with the local NHS and two well qualified and educated individuals who meet the financial requirements to remain.

“If all other aspects of their case were to meet requirements for approval and refusal was made on these grounds alone resulting in the family being made to leave the country, this would be unfair and clearly at a detriment to the local community and economy.

“This would be an injustice.”

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