A young mother faces deportation and separation from her family in an immigration wrangle.

Aizhan Mahavi, 25, must return to her native Kazakhstan to apply for a UK spouse's visa.

She and her Iranian husband Jamal Mahavi have hired solicitors to resolve the dispute before she is forced to leave.

Mrs Mahavi was allowed into the UK on a student visa after gaining work as a student leader in Hastings and Brighton in 2002.

The Home Office rejected her application for a spouse's visa after she married Mr Mahavi a year later at Hastings register office.

Although she wed Mr Mahavi in the UK, immigration laws state people given limited time here must return to their homeland to apply as a spouse.

Mrs Mahavi would take her three-month-old son Farid, born at the Conquest Hospital, St Leonards, and says it could be years before the family returns to normal in Sussex.

Mr Mahavi, who has lived in the UK for 18 years, said: "I work 14-hour days so would find looking after my child alone very hard."

The couple met at the internet shop Mr Mahavi runs on Hastings seafront. After they married, Mrs Mahavi paid £155 to apply for a spouse's visa over two months before deadline.

However, almost four months of delays resulted in the application not reaching the Home Office before the deadline.

The Home Office initially said Mrs Mahavi would have to leave immediately - when she was six months pregnant with Farid.

After intervention from Hastings and Rye Labour MP Michael Foster they deferred deportation until Farid is older.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We cannot comment on individual cases but to legally obtain a marriage visa they have to return to the country of origin. It's because there have been abuses in the past."