A WOMAN from North Yorkshire says she is ill with worry after her husband was left fighting against deportation.

Natalie Stafford met Michael Engel in South Africa in 2009, and they lived together there until they returned to Natalie's home in Sherburn-in-Elmet after marrying last year.

They have a 14-month-old daughter, Nyana Rose, and moved to South Milford where Natalie has set up her own interior design business, but they say Michael is being forced to return to South Africa because the couple do not earn enough to meet new visa laws.

Michael, 31, entered the UK on a visitor's visa, and has an application for a derivative residence card underway, but is unable to work while it is under appeal.

He said: "We came with the idea to go back to Cape Town because we had a house out there and we were doing quite well but Natalie didn't want to return. She didn't want high electric fences for our daughter.

"The judge said if we want to be together we should do it in South Africa because we have both worked there before and our daughter is still young enough and doesn't have any ties.

Natalie said: "It's draining. I've been quite poorly. I've just had illness after illness through constantly worrying about it.

"I lived in South Africa with Michael for four years before we were married and in that time we went through four cars being stolen and vandalised and all sorts of things stolen. We have guards around the house, and it's not really a nice place.

"I can't think of anything worse than having my child in that situation but I also don't have any family out there, and neither does Michael any more. It's daunting that my husband and the father of my child may be forced to leave the country. It's not an option, really, we have to fight it and we will keep fighting it."

Michael also said he had been affected by the ongoing challenge, with the couple's next court date expected in January.

He said: "It makes you want to say 'I'm giving up, I want to leave', but I have a wife and daughter.

"It makes you feel really inadequate because I have worked all my life and you're not able to be the man and support your family and take care of them. It's an awful feeling."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution but it must not be at the taxpayer's expense.

"Our family rules were brought in to make sure that spouses coming to the UK do not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support, and are well enough supported to integrate effectively. This is fair to applicants and to the rest of the public, and has been upheld by the Court of Appeal."

A petition has begun to try to prevent Michael being deported. To sign it, go to change.org