Eastern Eye (UK)

Group starts petition to let India student facing deportatio­n stay on


A MIGRANT from India who arrived in the UK on a student visa faces deportatio­n after he lost his legal battle to stay in the country.

Vimal Pandya, 42, moved to Britain on a student visa but was left in limbo after his education institutio­n lost its licence to sponsor foreign students.

He lost a recent hearing at the immigratio­n tribunal and is now said to be in talks with his lawyers for a way forward.

Pandya arrived in the UK from India in 2011 to study, but returned home in April 2014 to take a seriously ill relative back to her parents. When he came back to the UK, Border Force officials informed Pandya that the college where he was enrolled had lost its right to sponsorshi­p, but Pandya said neither the college nor the Home Office had reportedly informed him of this.

Without access to his original passport and other documents he has spent thousands of pounds attempting to regularise his immigratio­n status and complete his education. He also lost thousands of pounds in college fees and mounting debt.

During the pandemic, Pandya was employed as a local shopkeeper and is said to have worked tirelessly by dedicating “every waking hour” to ensure those in self-isolation during the national lockdown received regular food and essential supplies.

His community service brought him to the attention of Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, who wrote to him in February last year on behalf of the late Queen, offering thanks for his extraordin­ary efforts.

In London, a group called Rotherhith­e Residents gathered more than 177,000 signatures through an online petition in support of Pandya.

“We are devastated. He is devastated. But we will not give up the fight, if any path forward can be found,” the residents said in a Change.Org petition update last week. “Vimal has always shown how much he cares about the Rotherhith­e community where he’s lived for 11 years. So many of us have benefited from his help over the years, which is why we are fighting to stop him being unjustly deported,” they said.

The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark in London, Neil Coyle, spoke at a hearing in favour of Pandya, but the judge noted that the tribunal was bound by “the laws that are passed rather than the view of one MP”.

A spokespers­on for the Home Office was quoted as saying, “We are committed to an immigratio­n policy which welcomes those in genuine need but which deters illegal immigratio­n, prevents the abuse of benefits and services and removes immigratio­n offenders from the UK.”

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