'They are tearing our family apart' - 100,000 people sign petition to keep Harrogate family together
A mother in Harrogate could be torn away from her two-year-old child if the Home Office does not reverse its decision to refuse a visa.
More than 100,000 people have signed a petition to keep the Hynes family together, and now their plea has gone viral.
Until last year, Valentina and Stephen Hynes were happily living together in Nigeria with their son Harry-Zander, but when Stephen suffered a heart attack during a visit to see his family in the UK last spring, Valentina stayed to support him on a visitor’s visa.
Before the visitor’s visa expired, Valentina applied for discretionary leave on the grounds that her husband and son needed her - but her application for discretionary leave to remain in the UK was refused, and if an appeal to the Home Office is not successful, Valentina could face going back to Nigeria without her son, or her husband.
Valentina said: “It would tear our family apart, and cause damage that would be irreparable. When I spend time with my son now, I am wondering if these are the last memories that I will have with him before going back to Nigeria.
“I’ve had so many panic attacks, thinking about what could happen. And I think our son can sense what’s going on, he panics when I’m out.
“I can’t imagine it - I’ve never spent a day without him, never more than three or four hours apart.”
Stephen said: “The possibility that Valentina may be separated from our two-year-child and doting husband not only hurts but feels like an infringement of our right to family life. Families like ours being torn apart is cruel. Why should a child be forced to live without both willing and loving parents?
“Whilst being in the UK, my wife has not been permitted to work, she has not relied upon any state benefits, she volunteers at local dementia homes - giving something to a society that she is not being allowed to be part of. Valentina is a loving, caring mum who pours love on her son and husband, who has so much gratuitous warmth for everyone she meets.
“She is a true contributor and has so much to offer our country and society as a whole.
“Despite all that has been put in her way, including a miscarriage a month ago, Valentina maintains a truly positive outlook, she does not throw criticism at bureaucracy like others in her position of frustration, would do. She is a wonderful person who only wants to make life better for those around her.”
Due to the growing profile of the case, Stephen and Valentina are hopeful of the Home Office revisiting their decision earlier than February - the earliest that they expected to hear a decision about the appeal previously.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ”The case is subject to an ongoing appeal and so it would be inappropriate to comment.”