12 December 2014
Last updated at 12:15
Michael Engel, pictured with his wife Natalie and daughter Nyana, will be deported
A man faces deportation from the UK after a court ruled his British wife’s salary was not high enough.
Michael Engel, from South Africa, said the “bizarre” immigration system rules were “attacking British citizens”.
Mr Engel, a 31-year-old yacht engineer living in Cornwall, said he and wife Natalie plan to go back to South Africa with 18-month-old daughter Nyana.
A Home Office spokesman said the rules were designed to stop foreign spouses becoming reliant on UK taxpayers.
The couple were told of the immigration tribunal’s ruling after they had appealed on the grounds of a right to family life.
But under rules introduced in 2012, British citizens who want to bring a foreign spouse to the UK must earn £18,600 a year and a further £3,800 – a total of £22,400 – if the couple have a child.
Mrs Engel’s business made £19,786 in 2014 which was deemed not enough by the tribunal panel, which met on 3 December.
She said the decision made her feel like her family was being “kicked out” of the country.
She said: “I’m gobsmacked, lost for words, angry and deflated. I’m not so proud to be British right now.”
But Judge Michael Wilson, who heard the appeal, said UK taxpayers “should not be expected to have to financially support the appellant in the event of him not obtaining work”.
The couple are now awaiting a deportation date.
Michael Engel, his wife Natalie and daughter Nyana, are now awaiting a deportation date
Mr Engel said: “We did everything in our power to tick all the boxes.
“They are just attacking the wrong people – they are attacking British citizens.”
‘Fair to public’
The couple met in 2009 working on a cruise ship and lived in South Africa for four years.
They moved to the UK in January 2013 with Mr Engel on a holiday visa, living first in Yorkshire and then in Cornwall.
In a statement the Home Office said: “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.
“This is fair to applicants and to the rest of the public, and has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.”
Average gross full time pay in Cornwall was £23,305 for the year ending April 2014, compared with £27,195 for the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics..
North Cornwall Liberal Democrat MP, Dan Rogerson, said in October: “It’s absolutely right that anyone who comes to settle in this country has the resources to do that and is not going to claim benefits straight away.
“But I think it’s also important that we get the thresholds right, so that in low income areas like Cornwall, we are not disadvantaging people.
“We need to keep families together who want to settle here.”