A young Co Down mother has pleaded with the Home Office to reverse a decision that has left her husband living thousands of miles away in South Africa, unable to see his newborn son.

Julie-Ann and Justin May got married in South Africa last December and moved to Northern Ireland earlier this year.

In August, Justin went back to his native country to apply for a UK spousal visa – but last month, the Home Office refused the visa application.

“The letter came through quite early in the morning,”Julie-Ann told UTV.

“I just stopped dead and I honestly thought I was taking a panic attack. I just didn’t know how to process that my husband wasn’t coming home.”

The couple's baby boy Seth was born just days after the visa refusal. Credit: UTV

Julie-Ann says they were given a number of reasons for the visa refusal, including that the couple need to be able to prove their marriage will last.

“One of the things they said was that, while they acknowledged our marriage was legitimate, they couldn’t see any evidence that it was lasting - which I feel is a hard thing to prove in an early marriage.

“We’ve only been married since December and we’ve had a baby, so I think that’s proof enough.”

She added: “Another thing they said was that Justin’s English test wasn’t sufficient, despite him passing an English test that was two levels higher than what they actually require for the visa.”

Julie-Ann with her baby boy Seth, who has yet to meet his dad. Credit: UTV

Just days after the visa refusal, Julie-Ann gave birth to the couple’s son Seth.

“Obviously, my husband has never met Seth, never held him,” she said.

“I try to update him in the morning with pictures, but it’s just not the same as holding your child. The longer it goes on, the harder it gets, because he’s growing and changing every day.”

The couple are fighting the decision and are pleading with the Home Office to reverse its decision.

In a statement, the Home Office said the application was “still being assessed”.