Islington bus stab hero is refused visa extension and told to leave
�A brave bus passenger who was stabbed twice protecting elderly women from a gang of thugs has been told to leave the country.
Tim Smits, 33, was knifed defending the OAPs last year and given hero status by a nationwide charity on Monday, but the UK Border Agency (UKBA) says he must go.
The Australian-born graphic designer has spent months recovering mentally and physically from the violent attack in September last year and applied for a compassionate extension to his visa while he got back on his feet. But the UKBA ruled that his circumstances are neither compelling nor compassionate, despite him being honoured by the Andrew Carnegie Hero Trust Fund and being given an Islington Council citizenship award.
Mr Smits said: “What needs to happen before it’s compelling and compassionate? The refusal letter was a massive hammer blow – a kick in the balls I just didn’t need and couldn’t take at that time. I had dealt with so much already.
“All the appreciation I have had from the community has really kept up my sprits, but the coldness of the border agency and lack of compassion has made me sick. It’s made me question if I want to live in a country that wants to kick me out, even though I love it here. I want to make a difference to the problems of knife crime in London, but the UKBA just wants to kick me out. It doesn’t give you much faith in humanity.”
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Mr Smits’s family flew from Melbourne, Australia to see him honoured by the Carnegie hero fund at Islington Town Hall on Monday – the first time he had seen them since his ordeal.
He was due to go on holiday with them to Europe this week but his visa issues mean he is unable to leave the country.
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He said: “They have helped me forget my worries and I have laughed more in the past week than I have in the rest of the year.
“I should be in Europe with them now but I can’t. They left on Tuesday and I just felt so low.”
Mr Smits, an award-winning artist, had been applying for an exceptional talent immigration status, reserved for people who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts.
As he has not won any awards in the 14 months since being stabbed he might not be able to get a visa under the criteria.
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “Mr Smits’ application was refused on 11 October this year. We had previously written to Mr Smits requesting details to support his application, however we did not receive a response.
“He has chosen to appeal against this decision and proceedings are ongoing.
“All cases are dealt with individually on their merits but it is only right and fair that the rules apply to everyone.”