A mother of four is facing deportation to her native South Africa over a mix-up in her UK visa application.
Alison Hawkins, who has lived in the UK for 13 years with British husband Wayne and their children aged between 21 and 14, tried to renew her visa in July. But she has now received notification that her application has been turned down because she had not paid the new £500 NHS surcharge.
Mrs Hawkins, who had discretionary leave to remain in the UK and intended to apply for citizenship, said she did not receive the letter from immigration authorities relating to the charge.
She had already paid more than £600 applying for her visa and must now resubmit her application or face being deported. She has also been told she cannot work in the UK as her discretionary leave to remain was not renewed. In addition, she must also wait for 10 years before applying for British citizenship, rather than the previous two years.
Mrs Hawkins, who lives in Distington, Cumbria, told the Workington Times and Star: “I just want a fair chance. I have paid all my taxes and national insurance. I have never claimed any benefits even though my visa allowed me to do so.
“We came here with three suitcases. We have worked for every single thing we have.”
She said she had not received the letter relating to the NHS charge. She is also waiting for the authorities to return her certificate which proves she speaks English, which she needs to resubmit her visa application.
If Mrs Hawkins is forced to leave the UK, she will not be allowed to return for a year and if she is deported, she faces a 10-year wait before she can reapply for a visa. The Hawkins family have contacted their MP, Jamie Reed, over the issue and their eldest daughter Kimberley has started an online petition in support of her mother.