Tyne & Wear

Northumberland and Canadian family forced to live apart

Rachel, Betsy and Craig Image copyright Family photo
Image caption The family moved to Canada from the UK in 2010

A mother is urging the government to help reunite her family after a year spent thousands of miles apart.

Rachel Gair and daughter Betsy are in Northumberland, but Betsy's father, Craig Stock, is in Canada and unable to join them.

The family returned to the UK to care for Ms Gair's mother. Mr Stock had to return to Canada to apply for his spousal visa, which has been denied.

The Home Office said the decision was backed up by an independent tribunal.

Ms Gair, 48, who was born in north-east England, met 50-year-old Mr Stock, a Canadian, 20 years ago.

Visa lapsed

They lived together in Haydon Bridge for several years before moving to Canada with British-born Betsy in 2010.

The family said they were not aware Mr Stock's permission to live in the UK, which had lasted for five years, had already lapsed.

Last year, when they returned to the UK they were told Mr Stock no longer had a valid visa.

Image caption Rachel Gair works 30 hours per week at a school in Northumberland

Ms Gair said: "It's heartbreaking. It's consumed our lives for the last year.

"We just need our Craig - my husband and Betsy's father - to be here with us so that we can just get on with life."

Income threshold

Despite previously having residency rights, his application to remain was denied.

Ms Gair has a part-time job and was told she does not earn enough to cover the Home Office rules on spouse sponsorship.

She says she is unable to work full-time as she needs to look after their 12-year-old daughter.

In a statement, the Home Office said: "All cases are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the immigration rules, and are based on evidence provided by the applicant.

"To ensure families can support themselves financially, we ask for evidence that applicants looking to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner meet a minimum income threshold of £18,600."

Mr Stock, who worked full-time when he lived in the UK, has a job lined up at a distillery in Durham which he cannot take because of the ruling.

Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for Mr Stock to be allowed to return.

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