Former soldier unable to provide for his family following visa error by Government office

Josaia Matanatabu with his partner Siobhan Murphy and their daughter Grace Matanatabu. Picture by FRANK REID
Josaia Matanatabu with his partner Siobhan Murphy and their daughter Grace Matanatabu. Picture by FRANK REID

A Fijian man who has made Hartlepool his home has been left unable to provide for his family after a visa nightmare.

Josaia Mantanatabu, who served with the British Army, says the situation is becoming “urgent” after his work permit was revoked due to an error by immigration chiefs.

Josaia Matanatabu with his letters. Picture by FRANK REID

Josaia Matanatabu with his letters. Picture by FRANK REID

Although the Home Office has accepted it made a mistake in rejecting Josaia’s new visa application, he is unable to work and provide for his family until it is sorted out, which could take months.

Josaia, 36, who lives with his partner Siobhan Murphy and their seven-year-old daughter Grace, said: “It has really taken its toll on all of us.

“I feel let down. The Home Office are saying it’s their fault. It is alright them saying that but I still don’t know if I am entitled to work.

“I need to go back to work. It is really urgent now.”

Josaia has lived in the UK since he was medically discharged from the Army 17 years ago.

It transpired in April that his latest visa application made last December was rejected for failing to pay a £600 immigration health surcharge.

Josaia had asked for extra time to pay and did subsequently pay it.

But the Home Office said in a letter it appears post on the matter was not received.

His application has since been reopened and is currently under consideration.

But Josaia who, lives in Dyke House, and works as a rigger in the petrochemical industry is unable to work in the meantime.

He added: “I have lots of work coming up. There is a big contract on Teesside I want to go on.

“Everything the Home Office want is there. They just have to look at it.”

Josaia’s partner Siobhan, 28, who works part-time while studying at university, said she had to take on extra hours to tide the family over.

She said: “It has disrupted our whole lives. I have never known anything like it.

“He has always worked over here and paid taxes and national insurance.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We recognise the decision to cancel Mr Matanatabu’s application was incorrect and we contacted him via his representatives to acknowledge that in writing in June.

“His application was reopened and further information was requested. His case remains under consideration.”

It added he does not face any removal action.