Sunderland mum's relief as Home Office decision to deport her husband to Australia is reversed

Jeff and Alison Atkinson-Phillips
Jeff and Alison Atkinson-Phillips
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The family of a Sunderland-born woman will not be split up after the Home Office reversed its decision to deport her husband.

Alison Atkinson-Phillips and her husband Jeff were told earlier this month that he must return to Australia - or he will be deported.

Alison Atkinson-Phillips and son Tijaan while hiking Hadrian's Wall earlier this year

Alison Atkinson-Phillips and son Tijaan while hiking Hadrian's Wall earlier this year

Desperate to keep their family together, the couple, who have two children Tijaan, 19, and Mia, 13, launched an online petition which gained more than 2,700 signatures.

After a turbulent few weeks, Jeff, 42, has now been given a residency permit.

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."

The family received Jeff's residency permit through the post but haven't received any details on why the Home Office decision has been changed.

"We are obviously massively relieved and and happy and we're really really grateful for all of the support that we have had," added Alison, 42.

"I can only assume that it's that support we have had that has lead to the change in decision.

"So many people have contacted us and told us what their stories are. There are so many people who have been through something similar to us.

"I'm really happy that it's changed for me but I'd definitely like to see a change in legislation for other people going through the same thing."

The family had been living in Newcastle after Sunderland-born mum Alison took up a research post at Newcastle 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.

The family’s two children are UK citizens - Tijaan works in a local pub and Mia 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.

UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: ‘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.’