TWO teenagers who fell in love and got engaged are being forced to live thousands of miles apart by the UK's tough new immigration red tape.

Alex Firth, 18, is in Barnsley while sweetheart Jamie Freeman, 19, is in Georgia, USA - but they but can't get permission to live together even though he has written to Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking for help.

The couple met online last year when Alex visited a website to help him learn a foreign language.

He said: "I thought I'd try learning German. Jamie was on there also looking to learn German. We started chatting online and found we had a lot in common."

After a month, the couple realised they had a special bond and in January, Jamie came to visit Alex in Barnsley. It was there that Alex popped the question.

"She liked Barnsley and we felt a lot better together," Alex said. "I took her to Barnsley FC matches - she even went home with a Barnsley scarf on."

The two thought getting a visa for Jamie to move to the UK would be a formality. But the UK government's tough new rules introduced in July 2012 say that a non-European spouse or partner must be sponsored by a person "with a minimum income."

Young couples are at a particular disadvantage because they tend to earn less and with Alex suffering from Asperger's syndrome and a blood pressure condition, it means he can't work to earn enough to support Jamie, as specified by the government.

Alex said: "For me to get a visa for Jamie I have to be earning £18,600. I'll never be able to earn that because of my health and I can't afford to emigrate to the US either."

An inquiry is currently looking at the migration rules and Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis is supporting the case of the young long distance lovers.

The Barnsley Central MP said: "Alex is the victim of a tightening of the rules which penalises him for being a young person. He is fortunate enough to have found someone he wants to be with, who makes a profound difference to his health and quality of life.

"They cannot do the most basic things that a young couple would do - like plan their new life together - because they don't have the kind of income this government thinks is necessary."