A man who had lived legally in the UK since 1962 had his passport confiscated and was threatened with forcible removal from the UK, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found.
Mr V was a Jamaican national who arrived in the UK in May 1962 when he was 19. He had Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) but in 2015 applied to UKVI for a permanent status document called a No Time Limit (NTL) biometric residence permit.
Mr V had to withdraw his NTL application as he needed to travel overseas. On returning to the UK he was granted ILE but was later contacted by Immigration Enforcement. It said he was residing in the UK illegally, and sent him a series of letters threatening to revoke his driving licence and send him to prison.
He was told: ‘Your life in the UK will become increasingly difficult’. When Mr V submitted the passport proving he had ILE, Immigration Enforcement impounded it and told him he would be deported. His driving licence was revoked, and it was not until he submitted national insurance records that his ILE stamp was accepted as genuine.
Mr V was able to provide evidence of his right to live in the UK, but died in 2019, less than a year after being granted British citizenship.
His daughter was forced to bring her complaint to PHSO after UKVI failed to resolve the issue. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that Mr V had been a victim of maladministration, that he should never have been contacted by Immigration Enforcement, and that UKVI had demanded more evidence than their own guidelines recommended.
Ombudsman Rob Behrens said:
‘A well-loved father and grandfather spent the last years of his life in severe depression and anxiety because he was being wrongfully pursued and threatened by Immigration Enforcement. UKVI failed to adhere to its own standards. It should acknowledge the distress it has caused and make sure cases like this are not repeated.’
Ms V said:
'My father was looking forward to spending more time with his family. Instead, he was told that he was going to be thrown out of this country. He had complete proof of his legal residence in the UK and was devastated when it was ignored. He changed from being an outgoing family man to becoming depressed, very anxious, and isolating himself from his family.
I am pleased that the Ombudsman’s investigation has found that my father was treated appallingly by the Home Office but am desolated that he is not alive to read the report.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that Immigration Enforcement should never have told Mr V he had no status in the UK, and it missed opportunities to put things right. UKVI’s failure to share relevant documents internally prolonged procedures, and it asked for more evidence than was required by its own guidance.
The failings identified by the Ombudsman had a profound effect on Mr V in the last years of his life. For his daughter and her family, seeing their father and grandfather’s breakdown was deeply distressing.
PHSO has recommended systemic action to improve complaints handling at Immigration Enforcement and UKVI, alongside an apology and financial remedy to Ms V.