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Co Derry woman says her life has been "put on hold again" as US-born husband's citizenship case continues

Jake DeSouza and his wife Emma have been involved in an ongoing dispute with the Home Office. Picture by Hugh Russell

A CO Derry woman has told of how her life has been "put on hold again" after the UK Home Office was granted permission to appeal her citizenship case at a higher court.

Emma DeSouza from Magherafelt said it "will likely be six months before we get a date" for the next stage of their legal battle.

It comes just seven months after Mrs DeSouza told of her "relief" that a Belfast court had rejected the Home Office's bid to appeal against a ruling that her US-born husband Jake should be allowed to live in the UK without going through immigration procedures because she carried an Irish passport.

But the couple have now been thrown into a further legal wrangle after learning that the Home Office have been granted permission to appeal to the upper tribunal.

Speaking last night, Mrs DeSouza said it was "disheartening and yet at the same time unsurprising".

The couple, who married in July 2015, have been involved in a dispute with the UK Home Office after they began the process of securing his right to live in Northern Ireland as the husband of an Irish citizen residing in the UK.

Mr DeSouza, who hails from California, surrendered his US passport as part of the process, but the couple said they were told that due to Mrs DeSouza being born in the north, she is a British citizen and must reapply for Mr DeSouza's visa while claiming this nationality.

They challenged that decision on the grounds that Mrs DeSouza had the right to be treated as an Irish citizen under the Good Friday Agreement and was therefore an EU citizen exercising her freedom of movement rights.

The first-tier tribunal ruled in their favour.

The Home Office appealed against the tribunal's decision but was told there was "no error in law" and could not challenge in that court.

However, it had the right to go direct to the higher court, the upper tribunal, to argue that an important point in law needs to be tested.

It emerged this week that the Home Office have now been granted permission to appeal the decision of the first tier tribunal before the upper tribunal.

Mrs DeSouza last night said it now appeared "we are going back to court".

"It will likely be six months before we get a date," she said.

She added: "It is disheartening and yet at the same time unsurprising. Still, we feel stronger than ever moving forward."

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