AN MP has lashed a 'dysfunctional' Home Office for threatening a York mother-of-two with deportation, claiming delays and errors are being caused by a serious shortage of staff.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell also said the department was facing a significant volume of inquires as a consequence of Brexit.

The Labour MP spoke out after Huang Yan said yesterday she hoped the threat of deportation to China will be lifted, thanks to the intervention of the MP and The Press.

Huang Yan has been married to York businessman Nick Turnbull for 12 years and has lived in Clifton, York, for the past five years with their children Hetty, six, and Molly, nine.

Nick, who met her while working for the British Consul and as a teacher in China, says she is exactly the kind of immigrant the UK claims it wants, adding: “She came here legally and has always respected our laws and culture.

“She is well educated, has specialist skills, pays her taxes and has never claimed any benefits. She has integrated well in local society, making friends and supporting local charities and causes. Above all she is a loving kind wife and mother that her family needs.”

But after being invited by the Home Office to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, she was told recently she had been turned down because she had “not demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language” - even though she speaks fluent English and completed a test to prove it five years ago.

The couple said they were given no explanation for the decision, which came after they had paid £3,000 to apply, submitting 500 pages of evidence, and they were unable to get clarification from the Home Office.

But after inquiries by The Press and Ms Maskell, officials have revealed she was turned down because she had not passed a language test with the right provider.

A spokesman said: “For applications for indefinite leave to remain, the English language test qualification must have been issued by a provider on the current Secure English Language Test (SELT) approved list and taken at an approved test centre.

"The qualification supplied by Huang Yan did not meet these requirements and was therefore refused.”

He said yesterday she had been contacted again and told an “exceptional decision” had been taken to grant her further time to submit an English language test certificate from an approved provider.

“If this is received within 28 days her current application will be reconsidered,” he added.

Ms Maskell claimed today: “This case demonstrates, yet again, how dysfunctional the Home Office is in dealing with applications, not only changing their minds over how to handle the case after I became involved but when a constituent passed their language test six years ago, expecting them to retake it, despite a further 6 years of speaking English.

"Having met with the Visa and Immigration service, it is clear that the delays and errors are caused by a serious shortage of staff in the department resultant of government cuts, and now the significant volume of enquires due to the new Settled Status scheme resultant of Brexit.

"There has also been a lack of clear leadership by this Government in the wake of the hostile environment which has presided over the department.

"I trust that this case will now proceed smoothly."

Huang Yan said she had now booked to take the test in Leeds today, and she hoped to pass and send a certificate to the Home Office next week.

Nick said: “It’s a little miracle. I have no doubt that we would still be stuck in this nightmare had it not been for the Press and the MP making these inquiries.”

He said the family had come to live in England in 2013, when he was flown back after a serious illness, with Huang Yan joining him after acquiring the necessary permissions and certificates, including a certified PTE academic English test at grade B, as required.

He said they “had maxed” their credit cards and overdraft to raise the money for a ‘Super Priority Application’ earlier this year, because the Home Office said a standard application could take six months, during which time Huang Yan would not be able to visit her mother, who was dying.

He said an official wrote to them on March 26 to say their application raised “exceptionally complex issues”, so further time was required to consider it thoroughly. But one day later another letter stated: “We have considered your application and you do not qualify for indefinite leave to remain.”

The letter stated her application would be considered as one for temporary leave to remain but a failure to pay an ‘immigration health surcharge’ of £1,000 would mean it would be treated as invalid, adding: “You may be liable for removal from the United Kingdom.”

*The Press has offered the Home Office opportunity to respond to Ms Maskell#s comments.