Pensioner fears she will be deported but friends rally to cause
A pensioner who overstayed her visa and could face deportation is fighting to remain in the UK.
Gurmit Kaur arrived in Smethwick in 2009 from India on a multi-visit visa and has lived there ever since.
Her visa expired after a year and her attempts to stay in the UK permanently have been refused. The 75-year-old has had the prospect of deportation hanging over her for the last decade.
Friends say she has become an integral part of the community in Smethwick as a regular volunteer at her temple helping to feed locals and demonstrated why she should be allowed to stay. She also says she has no family in India and no home to go to there.
She says she has been living in fear of being “forcibly removed” from the country she has learned to call home.
However, the Home Office says it has had no contact with her since 2013 and has not made threats to deport her. It added Ms Kaur had made “no attempt to regularise her stay or voluntarily leave the country since 2010”, when her application was refused.
Ms Kaur, who is described as caring and friendly by temple regulars, is being supported in her battle to stay by the organisation Migrant Voice.
A petition arguing her case has been signed by more than 55,000 people. The group said after failing to leave when her visa expired Ms Kaur received letters from UK border officials threatening to deport her.
She said this frightened her so she did not contact the Home Office again until this year. She has had no communication with them since 2013 and says she has struggled to understand why she has been refused.
Migrant Voice claim the case “has similarities to the Windrush scandal, where people who contribute to UK society are made to feel unwelcome”.
Ms Kaur, who spends most days volunteering at the Gurdwara Baba Sang Ji in Smethwick, said: “If I was to return to India, I would have nowhere to go and no home to return to, and I have no family there.
“Being here in Smethwick is my true home, it’s where I work to help the community, it’s where I give back, it’s where I know and love the people who have become my family.
"This is the society I am part of and the place I have made my home. As I’m getting older, my community want to help me stay here and support me, this is why they are rallying behind me and I’m deeply touched by this campaign.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Office has not contacted Ms Kaur since 2013, so it is wrong to claim we have been pursuing deportation. We are happy to speak to Ms Kaur to resolve this matter.”
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