A South African man who worked in the UK for 15 years has been separated from his British wife and their six children for 18 months because visa changes were introduced while he was out of the country.
Daniel Botha, 53, returned to South Africa to attend a family wedding and visit his sick father.
But while he was out of the UK, rules requiring either he or his wife to earn an annual salary of £18,600 came into force. Neither Mr Botha, who was working full time as a van driver in Redcar, Cleveland, nor wife Julie, 49, who cares for the couple’s children, were earning enough to meet the demand.
He has already been refused a work visa and the family is now preparing to submit another bid. This time, they will ask the Home Office to accept Mrs Botha’s brother as a sponsor because he earns enough money to cover the £18,600 requirement. The family has also started a crowd-funding campaign, which has so far raised more than £1,200 towards their legal and visa application costs.
Mrs Botha told the Darlington and Stockton Times: "He has missed so much. There's been two funerals in the family and there was our daughter's 18th birthday, a school prom and soon it will be Jamie going to secondary school and my 50th.
"Two of our grandchildren were just six months when he left and they've grown so much. His health has got worse and, as time goes by, it will be harder and harder for him to get a job in his 50s when he gets back."
She said that Mr Botha should have had an ‘indefinite leave to remain’ stamp on his passport which he didn’t, but that staff at Heathrow Airport said there would be no problem when he wanted to return to the UK.