Tiffany Ellis left stuck in Jamaica after newborn son denied visa to enter UK
Tiffany Ellis travelled to Jamaica for her wedding but Covid-19 prevented her from travelling back to the UK. Within that time, she gave birth to her son Xien.
Because Xien was born in Jamaica, he is not classed as a British citizen and then the Home Office denied a visa for the newborn son to travel to the UK with his family.
Tiffany Ellis was born in Jamaica but has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, where she has lived since the age of eight.
Mrs Ellis and her partner Zarren had travelled from their home in Croydon, south London, to Jamaica in January 2020 to get married, accompanied by their toddler daughter Xianna.
But their plans were derailed by the global pandemic, with the family forced to stay in Jamaica as countries went into lockdown and flights were cancelled.
As restrictions eased they were finally married on the Caribbean island in August 2020.
She became pregnant and other health conditions meant she remained in Jamaica, where she gave birth to Xien on 20 April 2021. Mrs Ellis was told she would have to apply for a visa for her son to enter the UK.
Still without a visa for Xien, Zarren and Xianna returned to London so Xianna could start her first year of school.
Three months after applying, Mrs Ellis was told her son’s visa application had been rejected.
The official response suggested she return home to London without Xien and support her son’s life remotely, Mrs Ellis said.
She believes her family became a victim of a “hostile environment” application system.
The system, spearheaded by former Prime Minister Theresa May, established a more complicated application process for migrants to live and stay in the UK.
Mrs Ellis appealed against the decision, but said she never heard back from the British High Commission in Kingston.
Mrs Ellis’s anxiety worsened after doctors diagnosed Xien with a kidney condition. She found no specialist paediatric treatment for the condition was available in Jamaica.
Earlier this week, Mrs Ellis’s story was published in the Guardian newspaper. By the next day, Xien’s visa had been granted.
But her happiness soon gave way to a bitter realisation.
“It was in the press for just 24 hours before they overturned their decision,” she said.
“It shows they always had the power to turn it about so quickly. If you had the power to turn things around so quickly why did they make us wait six and a half months?”
After months of stasis, Mrs Ellis’s story suddenly began to gain momentum. A crowdfunding page was set up to buy her and Xien a plane ticket home.
She arrived back in London on Thursday morning – the day after being interviewed for this story – just over 24 hours after her son’s visa was approved.
“I was raised in the UK. I was raised in a country where I trusted and I believed that if you are honest and do everything correct in life, life will work out for you.
“I trusted that. But the country I have known my entire life has left me stranded out here.
“My faith has been shaken.”
She called on the Home Office to “put some humanity into dealing with visa cases”.
“You can’t just assess someone’s whole life based on a case file,” she said.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are in contact with Ms Ellis and have now issued the child’s visa.”