Father of young daughter fights to right to stay in UK

Michael Engel with his wife Natalie, daughter Nyana, and in-laws Peter and Tania Stafford. (S)
Michael Engel with his wife Natalie, daughter Nyana, and in-laws Peter and Tania Stafford. (S)

The father of a young child is fighting for his right to stay in the UK, despite losing two appeals against the decision.

Michael Engel, who is originally from South Africa, moved to England when he married his wife Natalie, who comes from Sherburn in Elmet.

The couple, who now live in South Milford with their daughter Nyana, are now engaged in a battle to keep Michael here and have launched a petition that has currently reached more than 5,000 signatures.

Mr Engel said: “We have been in a battle for 18 months and I have been refused twice for my right to stay.

“They haven’t deported me yet because in law they can’t split up a family, but I have been stripped of everything. I can’t drive and I can’t go anywhere because they have got my passport, so I am trapped while my case is pending.

“In the last few months they have given me the right to work but I need a National Insurance number and to get that I need a passport, so I’m stuck in a loop I can’t get out of.

“I have got another court case at the end of January, so that is another seven months just waiting around in limbo, and it isn’t something I want to do anymore.

“We really want to raise awareness about British citizens with non-EU spouses.”

Mr Engel met Natalie while they were both working on a cruiseline in 2009. Married in January 2013, their daughter was expected in May.

The family then decided the best place to raise their child when she was born was back in Yorkshire with Natalie’s extended family.

In July 2012, however, immigration rules came into force and state that, for a spousal visa, Natalie must earn at least £18,600, which, as an aerialist by trade, she cannot do after preganancy and so she set up her own interior design business.

A qualified yacht engineer, Mr Engel is unable to work as he is classified as a visitor to the UK and, under the 2012 guidelines, his potential earnings are not considered.

For this reason Mr Engel believes he is considered a burden on the taxpayer and is, for this reason, being refused his right to stay in the UK.

The MP for Selby and Ainsty Nigel Adams is currently trying to set up a meeting with Mr Engel to discuss his case.

He said: “I am more than happy to meet with Mr Engel and see what I can do to help.

“It is absolutely right that the UK has proper immigration rules, however there is always a human story in every case and this case does appear to have special circumstances.

“When I get an opportunity to meet up with the Engels I will be more than happy to help with their plight.”

The Home Office declined to comment on Mr Engel’s application for a derivative residence card, as it is currently involved in an appeal initiated by the family.

However, a spokesman said: “We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but it must not be at the taxpayer’s expense.

“Our family rules were brought in to make sure that spouses coming to the UK do not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support, and are well enough supported to integrate effectively.

“This is fair to applicants and to the rest of the public, and has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.”

To sign Mr Engel’s petition, go to www.change.org/p/rt-hon-theresa-may-mp-stop-my-husband-and-father-of-my-child-being-deported