A South Tyneside woman fears her family is set to be ripped apart by immigration chiefs - because she doesn’t earn enough.
American citizen Alexander Papay, kmown as AJ, has been ordered to return home because his wife, Lian, does not earn the required £18,600 to bring a non-EU spouse to this country.
Mr Papay, 27, has been flying backwards and forwards to and from the States to abide by current visa requirements and see the couple’s three-year-old son Jayden.
His application for permanent residency has been repeatedly rejected because the Home Office says she does not earn enough to support both herself and her husband.
Mr Papay has now been ordered to leave the country or face a ban from returning to the UK for 10 years.
The family, who live in Candlish Street, South Shields, have launched a further appeal with the help of an immigration lawyer - and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
All I want to do, is to be able to work and to be able to support my family.Alexander Papay
Mrs Papay, 31, who works as a PA said: “What they are doing is ripping my family apart and leaving our son without his dad.
“We know there has to be rules and guidelines but they are not taking into consideration the human side of it or the effect all this is having on our son.
“They say they are not forcing us out the country but, if AJ has to leave, then we are going to have to go as well. We are a family.
“They are saying I don’t earn enough to keep us both, but I’ve been keeping us both for a number of years now and if AJ could get a visa to stay here permanently then he could get a job.
She added: “Here we have a home, my son is settled and we have a happy family life. All our family and friends are here. If we are forced to go to America we could end up living on the streets with no healthcare for Jayden.”
The couple first met in 2012 when AJ came to the UK with his dad who moved to South Shields with his new wife.
The pair fell in love and when AJ returned to America after his first visa ran out, Lian discovered she was pregnant.
The couple married in May 2013. AJ came back over for the birth, but when Jayden was five months old he had to leave again due to his visa expiring.
The couple are currently being supported by New Hope Church which stepped in to support Lian while AJ was in America.
They have also launched a petition in a bid to raise awareness of their situation.
Mr Papay said: “This is having a huge impact on my son. Every time he wakes up he asks where’s dad?
“If we all left. We would just be in the same situation in the USA because Lian would need to apply for visa’s and be unable to work.
“We don’t have family, we don’t have friends over there.”
“All I want to do, is to be able to work and to be able to support my family.”
MP Emma Lewell-Buck said: “I am doing all I can to help the Papay’s.
“I have written to the Secretary of State to review the case as a matter of urgency and, once I have a response, I will liaise with the family.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the UK immigration rules.
“Those with no right to remain in the UK are expected to leave voluntarily. Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”
The petition can be signed on by visiting www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-please-sign-my-petition-to-protect-my-childs-right-to-a-family-life-and-have-both-parents