The Californian husband of a Co Derry native was previously denied a UK work visa because his wife did not identify as a British citizen.

As of Monday, the couple were vindicated as a Belfast court rejected the UK Home Office's bid to appeal against his right to live in Britain (Belfast) with his wife.

The court maintained that Emma DeSouza would not have to go through a procedure to denounce her Irish citizenship, as initially demanded by the UK Home Office.

Jake DeSouza married his wife in Belfast in July 2015. Five months later, the couple became involved in a highly publicized debate over citizenship as they attempted to gain UK residency for DeSouza.

Emma and Jake DeSouza on their wedding day

Emma and Jake DeSouza on their wedding day

County Derry native Emma had only ever carried an Irish passport. Thus, DeSouza's application to become a British citizen was rejected over the ground's that his wife should technically identify as British.

In a post she penned for Medium, his wife wrote passionately about her right to hold on to her Irish heritage, as a "child who grew up in The Troubles":

"At its core my identity is first and foremost Irish. It is not something I chose or considered, simply put, it is who I am. But would you consider me Irish if I told you I was born in Northern Ireland?"

By law, the couple were told the only way forward was for Emma to declare herself as a British citizen.

Emma and Jake DeSouza

Emma and Jake DeSouza

However their case relied on The Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which maintained that residents of Northern Ireland can select whether they should be classed as British or Irish citizens, or more importantly, a citizen of both.

The pair also argued that as an Irish citizen, Emma was therefore an EU citizen exercising her freedom of movement rights.

The newlyweds have spent over a year tied up in the legal battle, raising awareness about the fraught path between declaring citizenship of Britain or Ireland.

Meet Shadow - he may not look Irish to well just about anyone but he is an Irish water spaniel... (and half labrador) he was born and raised on our beautiful island. He reminds us that identity isn't something you can see #WeAreIrish #HeIsIrishtoo #YouAreIrish #GFA pic.twitter.com/TPjR9kV2eJ

— Emma DeSouza (@EmmandJDeSouza) February 11, 2018

Writing of the moment the couple were granted work and residency status for DeSouza, Emma stated on her Facebook page,

"Something amazing and wonderful for us and many others has happened today. The Home Offices application to appeal has been refused on the grounds that there is no arguable error in law. We have the privilege of being able to chose our identity whether that be Irish, British or Both and the home offices inability to recognise and respect that choice is coming to an end. The Good Friday Agreement is binding, not aspirational and protects all of us in the North. We are just so thankful to be winning without having to compromise who we are."

At present, a UK Home Office spokesperson said it was examining the ruling and considering whether to launch yet another appeal.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin politician Niall O Donghaille is also calling on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney to meet with Emma and ensure she is protected from the ongoing campaign being waged against her by the UK Home Office for asserting her rights as an Irish national who is resident in the North.

 

Jake and Emma DeSouzaFacebook/Emma Klewchuk