Family in deportation plea

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Kelly and Ilirjan Mehmetaj with baby Sofia at home in Chorley
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'Kelly and Ilirjan Mehmetaj with baby Sofia at home in Chorley

‘Please don’t tear our family apart’.

That’s the desperate plea from a Chorley family who face being torn apart because of deportation laws.

Kelly and Albanian-born Ilirjan Mehmetaj met while on holiday in Greece in 2010.

They instantly fell in love and when Kelly, of Water Street, returned the following year, they decided they couldn’t be apart.

The couple applied for a spousal visa which would allow Ilirjan to stay with her in the UK and married last year, followed by the arrival of their daughter, 11-month-old Sofia.

But Ilirjan has been told he has less than 28 days to leave the country – and his loving family – because he has failed to take an English test in the required time.

Kelly, 23, who works on the deli counter at Chorley’s Booths supermarket, said: “I don’t want to think about what will happen if he has to leave, it will tear our family apart. We don’t want to be without him for any amount of time.”

Ilirjan moved to Chorley in 2010, and the couple were told he could stay for two years if they married within six months. They wed in January 2011, unaware a new English test has been brought in one month before, which he would have to pass if he wanted a full visa.

By the time he could take the test on February 2, his visa had run out six days before.

Kelly said: “They refused him because the application was late. I was seven months pregnant at that time.

“We waited a year for a decision and it has only just come through. They refused him because Sofia wasn’t born at the time, so they couldn’t take her into consideration, even though now she is nearly a year old.

“He feels completely hopeless. He wants to be at home with Sofia, but he also wants to be able to go out and support us, which he can’t do because he hasn’t got a national insurance number.

“He fits in so well with my family, everyone loves him. No one wants him to go.”

Ilirjan, 33, who was born in Albania, but spent 20 years living in Greece, said: “I love my family and I don’t want to leave.

“I would love to go out and support them but I can’t, and it’s so frustrating.

“I just hope there is a way we can stay together.”

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases due to Data Protection laws.”