Visa joy for former Hartlepool soldier left on breadline

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 former soldier who was left unable to provide for his family after a Home Office error has been granted his visa.

Josaia ‘Joe’ Mantanatabu, 36, from Fiji, has lived in the UK for the last 17 years after serving with the British Army.

The Mail reported how he was left on the breadline after an error within the Home Office saw his latest application temporarily cancelled and he had to reapply.

It meant Joe, who lives with his partner Siobhan Murphy, 28, and daughter Grace Mantanatabu, seven, in Dyke House, Hartlepool, was unable to work for about six months.

But the family were overjoyed after it finally arrived in the post.

Joe said: “Family life was really affected especially with our daughter.

“It was getting to a point where I didn’t even know if I would be able to survive for the next few days, so it was really bad.

“I’m glad things have been sorted out.”

Joe applied for his visa last December and expected to receive it by February at the latest. But he discovered in April it had been rejected for failing to pay a £600 immigration health surcharge.

He had asked for extra time to pay and subsequently paid it, but the Home Office said in a letter it appeared post on the matter was not received, resulting in his application being incorrectly rejected.

Siobhan Murphy, a student, had to take on more shifts in her part-time job to try to tide the family over.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill, who Joe contacted, wrote the Home Secretary to speed up his application.

Mr Hill said: “This is great news for Joe and his family. I am pleased to hear that his case has been are resolved and that he has got his visa back without charge.

“I wrote to Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, on his behalf asking for the case to be dealt with swiftly and am very happy that it has been brought to a timely and favourable conclusion.”

Joe also received offers of financial help after the Mail published his story.

He also thanked his solicitor Louise Edwards for all her efforts with the case.