A seriously ill pensioner may have to return to her native South Africa to reapply for a UK visa, because she is not permitted to put in an application while she is living in Britain.
Myrtle Cothill, 91, had been staying in the UK with her family on a six month visa. When that ran out, her family tried to reapply for an extension but were told she must go back to South Africa to do so.
Mrs Cothill suffers from breathing problems, is almost blind in one eye and has hearing issues. Her family are concerned about the effects of a 12-hour flight to South Africa on her failing health.
Her case has been taken up by The Express newspaper and its columnist, the former Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe, plus Conservative MPs Philip Hollobone and Sir David Amess. They have appealed to Home Secretary Theresa May to allow Mrs Cothill to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds.
Sir David said: “This 91-year-old lady is very ill and it is utter madness to expect her to fly back to South Africa to seek a visa. She in no sense offers any threat to this country’s security and financially is self-supporting.
“Since her daughter has been in the UK more than the minimum seven-year residential requirement I simply cannot understand why Myrtle cannot be allowed to remain in this country.”
Mrs Cothill is currently staying with her daughter Mary Wills in Poole, Dorset. Mrs Wills, 66, expressed her thanks to everyone who had been in touch as part of the campaign to prevent her mother being deported to South Africa.
Support for Mrs Cothill has included one man who offered to marry her to allow her to remain in the UK.