A Huddersfield couple are fighting a threat to deport one of them to South Africa.

Matt Mallinson and Brett Rice, who went through a civil partnership in 2012, now face being separated by thousands of miles.

And it’s all over the princely sum of £361.20.

The pair’s income fell short of the required level by that amount when they filed papers for Zimbabwe-born Brett to stay in the UK, but within weeks their wages had gone above that as both completed University of Huddersfield studies and took on more work.

The Home Office, however, remained unmoved and have insisted that they have to look at figures dating from the time of the application.

Matt and Brett have now lodged an appeal, which is due to be heard later this month week, but face the threat of being seperated.

Both fear what will happen to Brett if he has to go back to South Africa, or his birthplace of Zimbabwe because of that country’s tough stance about homosexuality.

They have also launched an online petition to Home Secretary Theresa May, urging her to put pressure on officials, and are contacting local MPs.

The couple are currently living in Kirkburton with Brett’s parents, Len and Cynthia, who have lived in Huddersfield for five years after moving here from South Africa.

Matt, 23, who graduated with a journalism degree, said: “My partner has been refused his right to stay in the UK and is being asked to leave and return back to his home country, South Africa. This is due to the fact that according to the UK Border Agency we do not meet the required minimum income threshhold.

Deportation battle for Brett Rice (right) pictured with partner Matt Mallinson
Deportation battle for Brett Rice (right) pictured with partner Matt Mallinson
 

“We met at The University of Huddersfield and started dating from 2010. In July 2012 we became civil partners just a few weeks after a new law come into effect requiring married couples with one partner who is required to apply for a marriage/civil partner visa to earn a minimum income of £18,600.00 per year or higher.

“As we had both just graduated from university a month before, this requirement was not possible since you are also required to hold employment for at least six months prior to the application. Brett, 26, decided to carry on his education doing an MBA in Huddersfield whilst I worked and looked for a job within the field of my degree.

“We both worked as waiters earning minimum wage and applied for our visa beginning of April 2014. I worked full time and as my partner was studying he only worked 20 hours per week as restricted by his student visa when we applied. Despite this we calculated that with the hours worked, holiday pay, and any other income we reached the required amount. Neither of us claim any form of benefits and the total amounts are money we earn through employment”.

Matt works at The Three Acres in Shelley while Brett works at The Sovereign, Shepley.

The Agency has also insisted that Brett has spent 26 years in South Africa and that is his country, even though he came to the UK in 2009. He returned to South Africa solely in 2012 to apply for the visa.i

Matt said: “He spent the remainder of his ‘formative years’ in Zimbabwe a country we could not go back to due to their view on homosexuality. He has lived in the UK for longer than he has lived in South Africa and has more family ties here, with both his parents residing in the UK”.

A Home Office 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 foreign spouses and partners 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.”