SNP MP Tommy Sheppard has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid urging him to show compassion after a constituent’s wife was refused permission to stay in the UK because he did not earn enough.

Juli Colaianni, 30, an American citizen, married self-employed plasterer Tony Duffy, also 30, in 2017 and has faced a battle since then to be allowed to live in the country she calls home.

Her most recent visa application was rejected just before Christmas, with the Home Office arguing that Tony’s income did not meet the minimum requirement. As a result of the decision, which Sheppard described as a “disgrace”, she had no option but to leave the home they shared in Edinburgh and return to the US to reapply from there.

A petition supporting the couple and calling for the minimum income requirement to be scrapped had by last night attracted more than 118,000 signatures.

Sheppard said: “The utter lack of compassion the Home Office has shown Juli and Tony, is yet another striking example of the Tories’ ‘hostile environment’ policy.

“They were told about Antony’s health problems and that he relied on Juli for emotional support; but they don’t seem to care.

“The Tories’ punitive approach to immigration is ruining lives and putting people’s health at risk.

“Their treatment of Tony and Juli is nothing short of a disgrace.”