A MOTHER and daughter are facing deportation after their visa renewal was submitted two weeks late.
Lydia Gulley, 46, who was born in the Philippines, and her 17-year-old student daughter Jane were ordered to leave the UK this week, for what distraught husband Chris described as “a moment’s forgetfulness.”
Now the family has lodged an appeal with the Home Office which will allow them to stay here until their case is determined.
“This all happened because my job in the offshore oil industry takes me abroad and I was out of the country when some of the paperwork needed doing,” said 66-year-old Chris at home in High Street, Mawdesley, near Chorley.
“It has devastated our lives. Lydia is a totally broken woman. She has lost her job because of this and now she feels she and Jane are going to be thrown out of the country.
“It was a simple mistake. Maybe a fine for being late would have been appropriate. But this is out of all proportion to the crime.”
Home Office officials say they will consider the Gulleys’ appeal and, in the meantime, there are no plans to forcibly remove them from the UK.
But, by doing so, they must strip Lydia of the three years residency she has built up in the UK towards citizenship. Now, if the appeal is successful, she will have to start again from scratch and wait 10 years to qualify.
“I didn’t realise the visa was running out until it was almost too late,” confessed Lydia, who came to live in Britain in 2012 and has been working in the restaurant near Mawdesley. “I just forgot.
“We don’t want to go back to the Phillipines. This is our home now and we love England. Jane is happy at college – she is hoping to do a nursing degree.
“It has been so stressful since we found out. I’m finding it very difficult.”
Jane, an outstanding student at Runshaw College, added: “I’m really upset. It’s affecting my studies because I’m worried now we won’t get a visa to stay here.”
Lydia and Jane’s renewal oversight was only noticed hours before Chris was due to fly out to Africa on a 10-week stint offshore.
“It was panic stations and I rushed around trying to get the paperwork together before I left,” he said. “I thought we had managed it, but in fact I only applied to renew the biometric residency permit and not the visa.
“When I found out I contacted the Home Office from overseas, but they didn’t respond.
“So when I got back home at the end of November, I got all the documentation off to them, apart from proof of my earnings. I sent a letter from my employer, but they wanted wage slips instead.
“In the end, we were just two weeks late. Then, out of the blue, we got a letter saying their request to remain in the UK had been refused.
“If I had been in a shore-based job, I could have submitted things within the required timeframe.
But, because I am a seafarer, we are being penalised.
“Now Lydia has lost her job because she is viewed as an overstayer. She was working to help support a niece back in the Philippines through university. So this decision is ruining her life too.
“I have been under treatment for a serious form of cancer and Lydia rightly fears that if anything happens to me in the next 10 years then she and Jane will be thrown out of the country because they won’t have qualified for citizenship by then.
“It was a five-year wait before and Lydia had already done three. Now she will be back to zero and have 10 years to wait.
“I am not saying we don’t deserve some punishment for our error, but this is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications for visas are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.
“The onus is on the individual to ensure their application is submitted in a timely manner and with the necessary supporting evidence.”