The mother of a 10-month-old British baby living in the Whitby area with her partner is being thrown out of the UK in just 12 days after falling foul of immigration law.
Heartbroken Chiyo Ishiki (40), who has a daughter Philomena with her English partner Stuart Haswell (57), must leave the country and the place she calls home by 21 August, or face being deported.
Stuart, who works full-time for a charity in Teesside as an assessor for apprentices, owns his own apartment in Castleton where the family live and is fully supporting his wife and child without claiming benefits.
He believes his right to a family life, which he feared he would never have after battling testicular cancer, is being taken away by the British government because he fell in love with a woman from Japan.
He said: “How can they say ours is not a genuine relationship, I fell in love with her the moment I met her.
“I never expected to have a child and now, I feel like my family is being torn apart. We can’t be separated as Philomena has a food allergy and her main food is breast milk so she cannot stay with me until all of this is sorted out.
“I’ve been working since I was 15 and I’ve paid into the system. I feel absolutely disgusted the way we are being treated.
“I’ve never claimed anything in my life. We are being treated like criminals and we’ve done nothing wrong. I can’t believe it.”
The pair first met in 2009 while working in China and after spending lots of time together both abroard and in Castleton, they moved in together permanently in the village in November 2012, where they have friends and family nearby.
However, the Home Office say as the couple have not lived together for two years before they applied for Chiyo’s ‘partner’ visa she cannot stay, despite the couple sending them documentary evidence to the contrary including dozens of photographs of them together and pictures from the baby’s birth in Malaysia, to prove their relationship is genuine.
Stuart said they have spent more than £1,000 on legal advice from an immigration solicitor and have asked Whitby MP Robert Goodwill and the Japanese embassy to step in.
The MP told the Whitby Gazette he has pledged to write to the immigration minister Mark Harper to ask him to take a personal interest in the family’s case.
The pair have tried to get married but the Home Office will not return Chiyo’s passport which has been seized, and other legal documents such as her divorce certificate, meaning they cannot tie the knot.
A slip up with the visa process also meant their application was late after they sent it on time with the wrong fee, which had risen by £11 without their knowledge, and their documents were sent back without being processed meaning they had to re-submit them, missing the deadline.
The family now have no choice but to move to Japan to live with Miss Ishiki’s mother until they can reapply for her visa.
However, Stuart will be forced to live off his life savings as he will be unable to work as he can’t speak Japanese and Philomena will not be able to access health care or schooling, as she is not classed as a Japanese citizen under the law.
“We are nomads,” added Stuart. “I think personally we are an easy couple to get rid of as we don’t know the system but I want to do it the right way and go through the proper channels.
“If we stay in the country and appeal and lose, we might not be allowed to return for three to 10 years. We can’t risk that.
“Castleton is a fantastic village We have friends here and Philomena is getting christened at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart church in Lealholm. People can’t believe what is happening to us.
“My work have offered to give me a six to nine month sabbatical if we can return.”
Chiyo said: “We are so upset and worry about our baby’s future. I can’t understand how humans can do this.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. The onus is on the individual to provide the necessary evidence to support their application.
“Ms Ishiki’s application was refused because she failed to provide the evidence required.”
He added her passport was retained which is routine for all overstayers who have had such applications refused.
“There was a slight increase in fees in April this year. The UK Border Agency website clearly states that it is essential for the correct fee to be enclosed,” he said.