A migrant’s experience - Living with crisis

GMT 18:56 Friday ,17 March 2017

 Migrant Voice - A migrant’s experience - Living with crisis

Michel

What do you do when you lose all you worked hard to accomplish?

Was it because you gambled it away, or abused some substance which led you to having a mental breakdown, preceding your job loss? And now, no income, you can’t afford to pay your rent or mortgage.

Nope. Not all the typical reasons people think would lead to one losing everything.

And, you find yourself destitute.

Destitute, not homeless – there is a difference, apparently.

When you’ve paid your way. Educating and housing yourself, holding down a good career whilst paying immigration lawyers and Home Office fees.

Yes, making plans for that future, entrepreneurship and travel, maybe some…no! A lot of… genuine lovin’ thrown in.

What would you do, when you find yourself at the mercy of the Home Office?

Well, what happens first?

You can choose to take solace in the fact you have no criminal records or affiliations. 

You did put your applications in on time – didn’t you?

Yes. But even so they find ways of placing obstacles on your path...it can be deliberate or dare I say, a lack of understanding of how to apply their own policies.

So, what does bureaucracy look like when your life is in the hands of the Home Office?

It can take the form of any or all of the following:

Sending your application in February and receiving Home Office decision at the end of June with a visa expiring the end of August.  

Hold up! They had your application almost 4 months before making a decision and then gave you a visa for less than two months?

Yes. And after sending the new application in August – the Home Office refused to extend the visa under new rules which came into effect two months after the August application was sent to them.

Wait, I’m confused here. Are you saying that your August application was refused under rules that were NOT in place at the time you sent the application – but, these rules came into effect while the Home Office had your application in their possession?

That is exactly what they did, and that’s just the start.

There's more?   

After going to court to get this sorted they eventually extended the visa and the nightmare continued. The Home Office decided to make life difficult by extending visas for a few months at a time.

So in a period of less than three years you were required to submit seven applications whilst trying to complete your professional exams and training.

That’s not all. The worst was having to write a letter of complaint after receiving a letter from the Home Office saying  ‘you're liable for detention’  even though the visa was still valid.

So you started thinking that maybe they’re targeting you…you’re on their hit list...but why? You did all that was required.

To find out what was happening a request was made under the Data Protection Act and this is what the Home Office has written on the file:

"I shall arrange that she is detained soon, as subject is someone that we can hopefully remove with relative ease."

I don’t believe it!

It’s the truth and nothing but the truth…there is proof…

I’m trying to get my head around this situation…you’re saying that you were following all the guidelines doing what was required and have evidence that you were targeted for detention in 2010 for no reason at all, but that they thought they could remove you from the UK ‘with relative ease’?

Yep. Only found out about that when they refused my application for permanent residency on my eleventh year of living in the UK.

Under what grounds did they refuse your application for permanent residency?

Remember when they refused the August application under new rules and you went to court and they subsequently granted the visa? They calculated a gap of 2 months 27 days in your continuous residency during that time…so they refused.

Huh?

And now the fight is on to regularise status.

It’s a government department after all, they will be fair…surely!? This shouldn’t take too long to sort out and you’ll be back to the career, your professional studies and those plans…

But wait, it’s been three years!   Three years?

Three years of applications, appeals, court attendance, delays, and who can forget the adjournments because the Home Office did not have your file and had no idea why they were in court –SHAMEFUL!, and those threats of deportation. 

Aaargh!

The chickenpox…Ugh! Didn’t have it as a child…well, seems the NHS vaccination didn’t help you as an adult.

So, you attended one of the court sessions, looking like…hmmm! Let’s just say, you didn’t wear the pox well.

S T R E S S!

You were reminded by a friend, that it’s been three years of you not being allowed to work. Two years of you being housed by a charity.

This is what is referred to as, being destitute.

Now they have forced you into a place of desperate need…

You have zero access to support which your twelve years of taxes contributed to.

 And, that’s what they call: ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF).

What happens next?

Well, given the fact you are a human-being and I imagine you have emotions like those humans working at the Home Office – I expect, the mental breakdown, like a freak train is speeding in your direction…bullseye! Head first!

The stress that you’re under will lead to one or all of these: dizziness, anxiety, mild depression, severe depression - which can all lead to a complete mental break.

So, now that you’ve been in the UK for fifteen years, made destitute and jobless by a system which has caused you mental anguish

Please bear in mind, you may have problems registering with a GP in the area you are currently being provided accommodation.

Why? Because your passport has been with the Home Office for five years.

Well, except for the few weeks it was returned to you on a temporary basis, after the intervention of your MP, so you could sit the ‘Life in the UK’ test.

Now, after getting an advocate to aid your GP registration, you would be referred to ‘talk therapy’, or prescribed something for anxiety, sleep deprivation or antidepressants. Of course, you know yourself better that anyone, so these options should be open for discussion.

You continue to wait, to find out if they would allow you to get back to the business of life – and so you wait, and wait, and…

And then, you looked in the mirror, that person looking back at you - not completely broken yet…and you say, yet!  Because you believe that’s their intention. ‘Hostile…do anything to make them leave the UK.’

There is something in the eyes looking back, that says,

‘I am still here, remember me?

The strong one,

The determined one,

The one who knows who you are,

The one that kicks ass,

I am still here!’

 

***

My advice: listen to the one staring back at you. 

Allow the one looking back at you, to remind you of the strength you’ve used to overcome your pass struggles and they were many. That faith you carried with you, day in and day out, without a doubt you knew things would fall into place, like they usually do.

The one in the mirror, will talk to you about being grateful for all you still have.  Don’t screw up your face!

You have a roof over your head, don’t you? Food to eat?  Good health?   

Don’t write-off yourself just yet.

Great friends and a supportive community?

The one in the mirror, will remind you how to live, like you MEANT it.

It’s not yet the end.

- Part 2 coming soon -

 

 
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