Lancashire

Burnley father's fight for children to stay in UK

Justin Tutt with his children
Image caption Justin Tutt said his children belong with their family in the UK

A father who brought his two children to the UK from South Africa after their mother died is hopeful they will be allowed to stay in the UK.

Justin Tutt, from Burnley, Lancashire, feared Seth, eight, and five-year-old Leigh would face going into care if they were deported.

Mr Tutt, 29, brought them to the UK on holiday visas which expire in March.

He said the Home Office has told him their visa applications will be looked at in the "children's best interests".

'Not celebrating yet'

The children were due to fly back to South Africa on Thursday but Mr Tutt has cancelled their flights after submitting right to remain visas to the Home Office.

Mr Tutt, who moved to the UK from South Africa five years ago, said: "I am not celebrating yet but it looks very hopeful they will be able to remain here.

"The Home Office has reassured me under the Human Rights Act they look at the children's best interests in cases like this."

If successful the right to remain visas will enable Seth and Leigh to stay in the UK for five years after which they can apply for citizenship.

The barman, who has a British passport through his mother, was told he does not earn enough to be granted permanent visas for his children.

'Need to stay'

Government rules introduced in July state people living in the UK must earn at least £22,400, plus £2,400 for each dependent they want to bring into the UK.

He said: "There's no-one there to look after them, all my family, we all live here in the UK.

"These children belong with us as a family and they need to stay with us."

The Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley, Gordon Birtwistle, is supporting Mr Tutt's bid to keep his children in the UK.

A spokesman for the Home Office said it would not comment on individual cases.

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