'Please don't take me away from my family' - Man facing deportation to back the US makes plea to stay in Sheffield

Benjamin Bates from Lowedges could face deportation. Ben is pictured with his family Michelle Hawley-Bates, stepdaughter Lilly Rose, seven, and son Harrison Max Hawley-Bates, 18 months. Picture: Chris Etchells/The Star
Benjamin Bates from Lowedges could face deportation. Ben is pictured with his family Michelle Hawley-Bates, stepdaughter Lilly Rose, seven, and son Harrison Max Hawley-Bates, 18 months. Picture: Chris Etchells/The Star

A US man married with a child to a Sheffield woman has today pleaded with the courts to allow him to stay in the country.

Benjamin Bates, now of Lowedges but formerly of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, is facing the prospect of deportation back to his birth country after his extended visa application was rejected.

Benjamin Bates from Lowedges could face deportation. Picture: Chris Etchells/The Star

Benjamin Bates from Lowedges could face deportation. Picture: Chris Etchells/The Star

The 57-year-old, who sold his house, car and many of his possessions to move in with 'love of his life' Michelle, 30, said he has 'no life' to go back to in the US.

Despite desperate to work and having received several offers to take up employment, Benjamin is stuck until his fate is decided on June 9.

If it doesn't go his way, Benjamin faces life without step-daughter Lily and son Max, 18-months.

Benjamin claims his legal representative on his initial application said he was from Australia and made no mention of his marriage or child with Michelle.

"I guess they read the wrong case, I don't know I've never even to been to Australia. Mistakes happen but it's pretty bad. It got rejected and now we're appealing.

"I don't have any life to go back to in the US, my life is here in Sheffield. I love the city, people are real friendly and I want to contribute to this country and live the rest of my life with my family."

Ben and Michelle met online and started chatting for around three years. He sold all his possessions and came to the UK to be with Michelle.

Originally, he was given a six-month visitor visa but had to return to the US after three months to extend his passport.

Around five-months later, Benjamin returned to the UK but was handed back three months on his original visa.

But before his return, the 57-year-old received some big news.

"I was back in the States at some point and I got a call from Shell saying she was pregnant. I was over the moon but I was 14,000 miles away. I couldn't wait to get back."

The pair were soon married after meeting and had son Max in late 2015. He applied to extend his stay before his visa ran out.

But the first time in court didn't go to plan and now Benjamin has spent all of his savings on lawyers to fight his appeal.

"I got the rejection and it was a punch in the gut. I couldn't believe it," Benjamin said.

"It's been hellish not knowing what's going to happen. Every now and again I'm afraid immigration officers will burst through the door and take me away at any minute.

"I'm pretty afraid, I've read and seen people similar to my situation not being allowed back in the UK for five years."

Speaking about giving up the his life in the US, Benjamin said he was committed to finding work and start contributing to the UK.

"I feel I'm not doing anything wrong, I can work I can contribute I want to keep on looking after the children and being there for Michelle.

"People in Lowedges and Greenhill where Lily goes to school have been so nice. I meet people all the time and they ask how the case is going and whether I'd be allowed to stay. They've been really great.

"Staff at Greenhill Primary have been so understanding about what's going on."

His wife Michelle said: "I can't face the prospect without Ben. It's been so stressful, really really hard you can't even imagine.

"I don't know what I'd do without him. I'm not very well at the moment and he helps me out so much. We don't know what to expect from it.

"We've had to beg and borrow from people to help us with the legal fight. People have been really supportive."

A spokesman from the Home Office said: "Mr Bates’ application is currently under appeal and it would be inappropriate to comment further while proceedings are ongoing."