British student stuck in Kenya for three months waiting for passport | Passport Office | Daily News Byte


A British university student has been stuck in Kenya since September, unable to return home because UK authorities have refused him emergency travel documents.

Michael Omidire, born in the UK and raised in London, has missed a full term of university as a result of his long struggle to organize the paperwork to allow him to return to the UK. He was unable to celebrate his 21st birthday with his family in London earlier this month, and it is unlikely he will be able to return to the UK in time for Christmas.

Omidire, no relation to Kenya, went there with school friends for a week’s holiday before the start of his university term in Cardiff, where he is a second-year student studying economics and Italian. He traveled using his Ghanaian passport. When he tried to check in for his flight home, airline staff told him these were insufficient documents to allow him to board the flight back to Britain.

He had assumed he would be able to resolve his difficulties relatively quickly by contacting UK consular officials but three months later he is stranded in Kenya, unsure of when he will be able to return home.

“I was born in Britain, went to school in Britain. I’m British. It seems like a no-brainer – I have to be helped to get home,” he said by phone from Nairobi. “This is the first time I’ve traveled to Africa. It’s been a big ordeal. Treated like a foreigner.

Omidire now realizes he made a mistake traveling without applying for a British passport (although he had previously traveled using his Ghanaian passport when he went on a school trip to Austria), but is frustrated by the length of time it took. Solve the situation. He is in the process of applying for a British passport from Kenya, but 11 weeks after submitting the application he has been told his form is being scrutinised.

When he contacted the emergency travel documentation team, he was told they were unable to help. “This will come as disappointing news but your position does not meet our exceptional circumstances,” an official from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s document policy team said in an email.

Omidire was born in Milton Keynes in 2001 to a Ghanaian mother and a Nigerian father. Because neither of his parents were British citizens, he had to go through the process of naturalization to gain citizenship. He was naturalized and attended his citizenship ceremony this summer. His family was unable to meet the costs of his naturalization process (currently £1,300) until this year.

Although he had a Ghanaian passport, a digital copy of his indefinite leave to remain certificate and a copy of his naturalization papers, airline officials told him they risked fines if they allowed him to board.

“I was under the impression that I could travel on a Ghanaian document. I made a mistake but I thought it could be solved quickly. I am not sure if I will be able to return this year,” he said. During the months he spent in Kenya, various UK officials gave him various conflicting advice, variously suggesting that he should apply for a visa in the UK, request the right to remain in the UK, apply for a passport as an overseas Kenyan. Apply as a resident, or British citizen.

He spent more than £1,000 making phone calls to UK visa and immigration offices, passport offices and consular services.

“The main thing I’ve gathered is that most of the people who are supposed to be helping don’t really care. This could have been resolved in a matter of weeks,” he said. He said there was an official at the passport office who was very sympathetic and promised to contact him once the document was approved and sent for printing.

Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo said: “[Omidire] He has made a mistake but I have no doubt that if he had been a white British citizen stranded abroad without a passport, the authorities would have sorted out his situation by now.

Omidire has managed to keep up with most of his Cardiff course by studying remotely at a school friend’s grandparents’ house, but faces immigration penalties in Kenya because he overstayed his one-month visa. “I have never faced so many problems. It is surprising that I am not allowed to go back home.

A government spokesman said: “The published guidance is clear that it will take longer to obtain a British passport from overseas for the first time. All British citizens wishing to travel to the UK must hold a British passport or have a Certificate of Entitlement in their foreign passport to prove their right to abode in the UK.”


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