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A British resident who is stranded in Jamaica with her baby has been told by the Home Office the child cannot come to the UK because he has an “established life” on the Caribbean island.

Tiffany Ellis, 28, has indefinite leave to remain in the UK, where she has lived since the age of eight. She gave birth to Xien Ellis on 30 April last year in Jamaica and has been trying to return to the UK ever since.

In a letter of refusal of the baby’s visa application, Home Office officials say the decision is “justified by the need to maintain an effective immigration and border control” and will not have “unjustifiably harsh consequences”.

They add that the baby’s life can continue as it is now in Jamaica with financial support from his mother in the UK.

The Home Office refused Xien’s visa application on 22 December when he was almost eight months old.

Tiffany’s husband, Zarren Ellis, 38, and the couple’s older daughter, Xianna Ellis, five, are at the family’s home in London, desperate to be reunited with Tiffany and Xien.

Tiffany and Zarren travelled from their home in London to Jamaica in January 2020 to get married, accompanied by Xianna.

While the couple were waiting for the paperwork to come through for their wedding, Covid broke out and they had to stay in Jamaica as many parts of the world were locked down. They were finally able to get married on the island in August 2020.

In September 2020, Tiffany became pregnant and was afflicted with constant vomiting – hyperemesis gravidarum – so severe she was unable to leave the house. She hoped the condition would subside after the first trimester and booked a flight back to the UK for January 2021. But her condition worsened and she had to remain in Jamaica until after she gave birth.

Last December, Zarren and Xianna returned to London so that Xianna could attend school. They had no choice but to leave Tiffany and Xien in Jamaica because of the Home Office visa refusal.

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t cry about this,” said Tiffany. “My husband is my rock and he’s holding everything together. The whole situation is so heartbreaking. How can I explain this to my daughter? She thinks I’ve abandoned her. I’ve never been apart from her before. Xien tries to hug his dad on the screen when we do video calls. I just want to get Xien home before his health worsens.”

Zarren Ellis with daughter Xianna Ellis, five, who thinks her mother ‘has abandoned her’. Photograph: supplied

Tiffany, her husband and her daughter are all devastated by the Home Office’s refusal to allow the baby to come to the UK. Tiffany is particularly anxious because Xien has a kidney condition and specialist paediatric treatment for this condition is not available in Jamaica.

The family’s MP, Sarah Jones, the MP for Croydon Central, said: “My constituent and her sick child’s treatment by the Home Office has been utterly unacceptable. After I raised their case, it took the Home Office nearly four months to even reply, after I chased them multiple times.”

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Karen Doyle, of Movement For Justice, who is supporting the family, said: “This case highlights the casual callousness of the Home Office.”

Home Office sources said the documents they requested were sent in an unreadable format. A spokesperson said: “Upon further evidence coming to light, we agreed to reconsider this application in May. We are awaiting additional information and once we receive it, we will consider the application carefully.”