Monday, 30 November 2015

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Row over threats to deport South African settled in Cumbria

Home Office officials have again come under fire for threatening to deport an English-speaking South African man who has settled in Cumbria – because he has not taken a language exam.

Shelley and Donovan Tapping photo
Shelley and Donovan Tapping

Donovan Tapping, 36, whose first language is English, has lived in Cumbria for almost a decade, has a steady job, and last September married his long-term partner Shelley.

But none of that has impressed Home Office officials who have refused him permission to stay.

If he does not win an appeal against the ruling his life will be turned upside down because he will be deported within a month.

The case is a carbon copy of another deportation wrangle reported by the News & Star just over a week ago.

That involved dad-of-two Jason Nish, 28, from Carlisle, whose only language is English, who has also been refused permission to stay and is currently awaiting the outcome of his appeal.

“This whole situation is soul-destroying,” said Mr Tapping, who lives with his 29-year-old wife in Victoria Road, Penrith.

He said nobody at the Home Office told him that the UK Government does not regard South Africa as a majority English-speaking nation, therefore citizens have to pass an exam to prove their proficiency in the language before being allowed leave to stay. He said: “I speak a little Afrikaans, [spoken in much of South Africa] but my main language has always been English, and is regarded as the main international language used in South Africa.

“All they told me was that I would have to sit the Life in the UK test, which I did and which I passed. Nobody ever mentioned an English test.

“I’ve made my life here. Shelley and I have been together for four years, and marrying her last year was the most important day of my life. I was marrying the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

Shelley said the emotional impact of the deportation threat – which has included Donovan having to stay away from his job at the Frank Bird poultry factory in Langwathby – has been huge.

“It’s heart-breaking,” she said. “Donovan’s only mistake was ticking the wrong box on his form, because he did not realise that the government here does not see South Africa as a country which is majority English speaking. The Home Office is not behaving reasonably.

“He came over here for a better quality of life, and because he does not feel safe in South Africa. He classes this as his home now and he’s totally settled: he loves walking in the Lake District, and supports Manchester United Football Club. He’s always worked, and he’s never been in trouble.

“Apparently, my being married to him makes no difference. I think it’s a terrible way to treat people.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.

“Anyone applying for indefinite leave to remain who is not from an English speaking country must provide evidence of having an approved English language qualification. The immigration rules state that South Africa is not an English-speaking country.

“Mr Tapping’s application was refused because he failed to provide evidence that he had passed a language qualification. He has the right to appeal.”

The couple are currently gathering support online for Donovan through their Facebook page. To find it, log on to Facebook and search for: Don’t let Donovan be deported to South Africa.


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