Home Office reverses decision to force Newcastle family to move to Australia

The reversal comes after a campaign from the University and Colleges Union and MP Nick Brown

A Newcastle family will not be forced to move back to Australia in order to stay together, after the Home Office bowed to campaigning from the University and College Union (UCU) and other campaigners.

The Atkinson-Phillips family had been living in Newcastle, after Sunderland-born mum Alison took up a research post at the university in January.

Australian husband Jeff came initially on a tourist visa and then in August applied for remain to leave in the UK.

However, his application was rejected on the grounds that there are no “insurmountable obstacles” to the family returning to Australia.

Yet the family’s two children are UK citizens. The son works in a local pub and the daughter is happy and settled in her new school.

The family appealed the decision and UCU wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid asking him to intervene to ensure the family could remain together in the UK. This week the family’s MP Nick Brown and the vice-chancellor of Newcastle University Professor Chris Day also wrote to the Home Secretary.

In his letter, Newcastle upon Tyne East MP Nick Brown asked Sajid Javid to urgently reconsider the decision and that Alison should not be forced to choose between her family and her career. Professor Chris Day described the family’s situation as “worrying” and said Alison was a “valued member of staff” who had made a “significant contribution” to the university.

The Atkinson-Phillips case comes after two Durham University academics also faced deportation earlier this year.

Alison Atkinson-Phillips said: ‘

“I am so grateful to everyone who helped raise the profile of our case. It has been a stressful time, but I am so pleased we can now all get back on with our lives.

“No one wants to be in a position where they have to choose between their career and their family.”

UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup added:

“We are delighted the Home Office has given Jeff a visa and this stressful episode is over for the Atkinson-Phillips. Thank you to everyone who got involved in this campaign.”

Sajid Javid took over as Home Secretary after Amber Rudd was forced to resign for her role in the Windrush scandal. However, Javid himself has been criticised for his handling of the aftermath of the scandal. Read more here

Joe Lo is an investigative journalist and writes for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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