A FATHER has vowed to keep fighting for a family life after his Thai fiancée and two young children were denied a visa to live in England.
Steven Hodgkin, 33, of Edinburgh Road, Stamford, met Aeerat Luancharoen, 31, while working as an English teacher in the Chanthaburi beach resort in 2008.
The pair began living together in Bangkok in February 2009 before moving back to Chanthaburi for the birth of their daughter Malee in March 2010.
Mr Hodgkin’s 18-month teaching contract expired soon after and he was unable to secure further work in Thailand so moved back to England in June 2010, with Aeerat and Malee joining him on a six-month tourist visa in December that year.
Aeerat and Malee then returned to Thailand when their visa ran out, with Aeerat expecting a second child.
But when the couple applied for a fiancée visa for Aeerat, Malee and their second daughter Lily to return to England with the intention of marrying and settling, the application was refused.
Mr Hodgkin was judged not to have enough money in his account to support the family in Stamford and Aeerat, who can speak English but struggles to write it, failed her English test.
Mr Hodgkin, now a self-employed shopfitter, has appealed against the decision with no success and has asked Stamford MP Nick Boles for help getting his family to England.
Mr Hodgkin said: “We have got a life here but are not being allowed to live it.
“Aeerat had never left Thailand before and had never left her home town before she met me. It took her some time to settle in England but she made friends and a lot of people still ask about her in town.
“I have a room ready for Malee with a Magic Roundabout mural painted. It is just waiting for them all to get here.
“I can’t live without my family. I could never turn my back on them. I’ve got to keep fighting.”
Mr Hodgkin has never seen his three-month-old daughter Lily in person, but said it would be even more difficult for him to move to Thailand.
He added: “Moving to Thailand is impossible. I would need £20,000 in the bank to fund school for my daughters in order to get a visa. It would be more difficult for me to live there.
“I have been suffering from stress and anxiety quite badly. My partner is going through exactly the same thing.
“My daughter Malee is a daddy’s girl and she calls for me all the time which breaks Aeerat’s heart. We have been through a lot together and it has been very hard but we have always been there for each other.”
Mr Boles has spoken with Mr Hodgkin a number of times about his situation and is keen to help where he can.
He said: “I wrote to Damian Green, Minister for Immigration, in support of Miss Luancharoen’s visa application, requesting permission for her to come to the UK soon after the birth of her child.
“I had hoped that consent would be given on compassionate grounds in the interests of the couple’s young children.
“I received a reply stating that Miss Luancharoen’s had the right of appeal against her refusal decision to the First-tier Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber or she could reapply for a visa.
“The couple chose to appeal the decision and I was hugely disappointed to hear that a visa had again been refused.
“Mr Hodgkin has an appointment for my next Stamford surgery when we will discuss what further action to take.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “This case has been carefully considered by both the UK Border Agency and a judge. In order to come to the UK as the fiancée of a British national, the applicant must demonstrate that they can be accommodated without having to rely on public funds. In this case that was not proven.”