Heavily pregnant first-time mum faces deportation as third visa bid rejected
An expectant mother has been left distraught after being told she must return to China despite being just weeks away from giving birth.
Chinese national Grace Smith, who lives in Manningtree, moved to the UK in 2015 with husband Dean after meeting in China – where they both worked – more than 10 years ago.
She was granted a spouse visa which expired in February this year and since then has applied three times for leave to remain, spending around £11,000.
The couple expressed their anguish at receiving a third rejection which they say was particularly “cruel” considering Mrs Smith is seven months pregnant.
The news came on Wednesday – on the same day the 34-year-old lost her job at Marks and Spencer in Colchester, because her right to work was withdrawn.
This afternoon, after being contacted by this newspaper, Home Office officials said they were reviewing Mrs Smith’s case.
As the pair – who were told she must leave the UK now or she could be detained or removed – face an anxious wait for news, Mr Smith said: “My family have been treated terribly. It is an absolute travesty, and it rocks me to the core. Can you imagine how distraught my pregnant wife is?
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“The system is fundamentally flawed and it makes me ashamed to be British if this is how we treat people. It’s callous and emotionless.”
Home Office chiefs refused Mrs Smith’s initial visa bids after suggesting the couple failed to meet financial requirements – according to the department’s analysis, their income did not match the required £18,600.
This is heavily disputed by the pair. Until Wednesday, Mrs Smith was in full-time salaried employment while her husband is a self-employed personal trainer.
Mrs Smith added: “It is so cruel and heartless. I have been crying ever since I heard and to lose my job and get the awful news about the visa application in one day is so devastating. If my husband doesn’t go back with me, I have no healthcare or right to work in my own country now and it means he won’t see his daughter born.”
The couple, who married in 2011, originally came back to the UK to look after Mr Smith’s seriously ill father. His mother is now ill, and Mr Smith acts as her carer. Mrs Smith added: “They are making my husband choose between his seriously ill mother and his heavily pregnant wife.
“My mother-in-law is so excited to see her first grandchild and it will destroy her if Dean and I have to go back to China.”
Mr Smith added: “It goes against everything I believe to be British.
“At the moment I just feel numbness. Our lives are in their hands.”
Home Office chiefs said they are in touch with Mrs Smith’s representatives.
A spokesman added: “We are considering whether it may be appropriate to grant a period of leave, given the circumstances of the case.”
They said Mrs Smith’s third application was refused on the grounds that neither her or her husband would face “insurmountable obstacles” to continuing their family life together outside the UK.
Following the rejection, in a letter seen by this newspaper, Home Office bosses added: “Your application has been unsuccessful. You must leave the United Kingdom now, or you will be liable to be detained or removed.”
Representatives for Marks and Spencer said they were unable to comment on the case.
Mr and Mrs Smith thanked staff at the store for their support.