A PREGNANT horse-riding instructor from Wantage is relieved she will not have to give birth alone after her Australian boyfriend was almost deported.

Sophie Seymour, 27, was frightened about the prosect of giving birth to her first child alone after the Home Office ruled that her partner James Sheppard, 44, had unknowingly broken rules allowing him to stay when he left the country for a work trip.

Mr Sheppard, a horse dentist who has lived in Britain for more than 12 years and pays UK taxes, had made an indefinite leave to remain request in June and paid a £6,000 fee and passed his ‘Life in the UK’ exam.

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However, the Government department stated that because he left the country on a work trip in Germany which he does twice a year that his application had to be withdrawn completely.

He was told he needed to leave the UK by December 17 or pay ‘thousands’ to submit a new application.

Miss Seymour, who runs a horse training firm in Wantage, urged people on Facebook to contact David Johnston, MP for the town, asking for help.

She said: “The immigration system has no issues with removing James from the country so I could be left to have our first child by myself next month.

“The only thing I can think to do is to shout loud enough so we are heard so I am asking for help. Our first child is due next month. I don’t want to do this without him.”

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Mr Johnston, who also represents Didcot, helped Mr Sheppard with a previous visa issue in 2020.

He replied stating: “We spoke to the Home Office this morning and this time it sounds like an issue which I think only James’s immigration lawyer will be able to resolve with the Home Office.

“As an individual MP, I have no power to say who can and cannot stay in the country – I can only pressure the Home Office if they are taking too long or have done something wrong.”

However, this week the Home Office took back the withdrawal or Mr Sheppard’s application but did not state the reason why.

Mr Sheppard’s has also been granted his Indefinite Leave To Remain status.

Miss Seymour said: “We have been incredibly lucky, others have not been. I’m going to start a petition to make this change and will post online once it’s live.

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“I would be so grateful if you could all sign, the immigration system is flawed. We now have a voice - let’s use it to help others.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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