Home Office stops married couple being together for birth of first child

A married couple have been left “broken” and in “shock” after being barred by the Home Office from being together for the birth of their first baby, due in the next few days.

Farzana Miah, 23, who lives in Southall, is an Italian citizen who has been granted leave under the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) by the Home Office. She met Mohammed Mushraf, 27, after he came to the UK to study. The couple got married in west London in May 2021 and their child is due on 28 March.

Mushraf applied for leave to remain as the partner of someone with EUSS. At the time of the application, the couple were in a relationship, but had had to repeatedly postpone their wedding plans due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials confirmed that they also had to wait for the Home Office to confirm that their relationship was genuine before the marriage could go ahead.

Mushraf received a certificate of application, which entitled him to work, study and rent a property while his application was being considered, on 3 July. It also stated that those in possession of this certificate could “travel in and out of the country without having to prove your status as your information will be checked automatically”.

On that basis, the couple decided to travel to India last November to visit Mushraf’s family before the baby was born. But when Mushraf tried to board a plane back to the UK with his wife, he was told by immigration officials that he was being barred entry because he did not have the relevant documentation, such as a residence card.

Officials said the certificate of application was not sufficient. Miah had to return to the UK alone.

On 10 February, the Home Office refused his application, saying he had failed to provide sufficient evidence that he was a “durable partner” of his wife at the time of the application. Usually this evidence consists of both of the couple’s names on utility bills or rental agreements. However, because the couple are practising Muslims, they had not cohabited in advance of their marriage.

Their lawyer, Naga Kandiah of MTC Solicitors, has lodged an urgent appeal that he hopes can be heard before the baby is born.

“We are in a state of shock,” said Miah. “Had it not been for what was stated on the Home Office certificate of application about having the right to travel, we never would have travelled to India. I have begged the Home Office to let my husband be with me for the birth of my baby, but I don’t think we can melt their heart.

Speaking from India, Mushraf said: “I feel broken. We have tried our best to be together, but I don’t know what else we can do. I want to be in the delivery room with my wife to support her but I’m helpless because of the Home Office.”

Kandiah said: “This is a prime example of someone who was misled by the wording of their certificate. It has resulted in the separation of this family at, arguably, one of the most critical times in their lives, the birth of their first child.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “In line with the withdrawal agreement, someone applying to stay in the UK as a durable partner of an EU citizen will generally need to prove, with evidence, the relationship was durable by 31 December 2020 and is ongoing. Where an application is denied, the applicant has 14 days from date of decision to submit an appeal, or 28 if outside the UK.”

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