A mother has been told she must leave the country after her request for a visa was rejected - because her British husband of nine years does not earn enough. American Katy James, 40, and her British husband Dominic, 42, moved back to the UK with their two-year-old daughter Madeleine last year. But the family face being split up for up to a year after the Home Office rejected her visa application.
Mrs James said: 'We are absolutely devastated and it has left us feeling terrible and rejected - it is completely unfair. We are a normal average couple who fell in love. We have been married for nearly ten years, we have a lovely young child, and we want to stay here with our extended family. 'We do not want to go back to America. We have little family support out there, and we desperately want to stay in this country. Our lives are on complete hold. I'm not allowed to work, they have even taken my passport away.'
The couple first met online in 2005.
Mr James went to America to spend three months with his girlfriend before the pair married in 2006. They lived in Edinburgh between 2006 and 2009 after Mrs James obtained a 'spousal visa' but then they returned to Seattle. Mrs James said: 'It was always intended to be temporary. We had no intention of spending the rest of our lives out there.
'Madeleine was born in 2013 and then in 2014 I had the chance to transfer my job as a project specialist with IT company Cisco from Seattle to Edinburgh.
'A month after the transfer, I was made redundant and under Home Office rules I had to leave the country in 90 days.'
As the family did not want to be separated, the couple and Madeleine returned to Seattle, but they always intended to settle permanently in the UK.
Having had a miserable time in the States, they moved to Eastbourne, in East Sussex [where Mr James was born] in August 2015.
Mr James said: 'It just wasn't working out there so we knew we had to come back. We did not want to be there. Our lives were empty. We never thought the Home Office would reject Katy's application. It is cruel and heartless.'
He added: 'Our life has been on hold since we applied. Their verdict is a great blow to us and will impact the life of our close family, especially my daughter.'
Mr James has now set up an online petition calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene and allow the family to stay together in the UK.
The 42-year-old said: 'My parents, sisters, nephews, and cousins have lived in Eastbourne for 30 years.
We have a deep connection with the community and have many friends and a well-established life in the town.