Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

 

Nelson Shardey, a 74-year-old Ghanaian man who has called the UK home for nearly five decades, finds himself entangled in a bureaucratic nightmare with the Home Office. Despite living, working, and contributing to society in the UK for over 42 years, he was shocked to discover in 2019 that he was not considered British. Now, he faces a decade-long wait before the Home Office will even consider granting him permanent residency.

Shardey’s journey to the UK began in 1977 when he arrived to study accountancy on a student visa. Over the years, he built a life for himself, marrying British women and raising two sons. His contributions to society include running his own business, Nelson’s News, and even receiving a police bravery award for his courageous actions in 2007. However, despite his significant ties and contributions to the UK, he was blindsided when attempting to apply for a passport to visit his mother’s funeral in Ghana.

The bureaucratic nightmare continued as Shardey was informed that he had no right to be in the UK and was advised to apply for a 10-year route to settlement. This process comes with a hefty price tag of around £7,000, plus an additional £10,500 to access the NHS over the same period. For Shardey, who is recovering from prostate cancer, this financial burden is simply insurmountable.

Despite his decades-long residency and contributions, Shardey’s application process hit a snag when he mistakenly filled out the wrong form online, forcing him to restart the 10-year process in 2023. This means that Shardey, now 74, will not be eligible for permanent residency until he is 84—a prospect that seems absurd to both him and his sons.

With the assistance of Nicola Burgess, a lawyer at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU), Shardey is taking legal action against the Home Office. Their argument is grounded in the exceptional circumstances of Shardey’s case, including his lengthy residency, contributions to society, and bravery award. Despite these compelling factors, the Home Office has remained silent, citing ongoing legal proceedings.

As Shardey and his family navigate this bureaucratic maze, they are turning to crowdfunding in a bid to finance his legal battle. Their hope is that justice will prevail, and Shardey will finally be granted the British citizenship he has earned through a lifetime of dedication and service to the UK.

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