Young woman born and raised in Islington in year-long battle with Home Office for immigration status

Tricia Persad. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tricia Persad. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A young woman born and raised in Islington was denied legal status and her right to work because she couldn’t prove her mother’s immigration status.

Tricia Persad. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tricia Persad. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

But after the Gazette took up the case last week, the Home Office called Tricia Persad to say her application would be granted.

Tricia, 21, was born in the Whittington and went to Highbury Quadrant Primary, Highbury Fields secondary and City and Islington College.

She lives on the Percival Street Estate with her mother Mona, who came over from the Caribbean in 1987 and was given indefinite leave to remain the same year.

But a lack of documentation proving this meant Tricia’s passport applications were refused and then withdrawn by the Home Office, and she was told she could not work.

The Home Office then suggested to Tricia that although her mother’s arrival came 15 years too late for her to be classed as part of the Windrush Generation, she should apply through the Windrush scheme anyway.

The scheme, launched in the wake of the scandal, offers free citizenship applications for the Windrush generation and their children.

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Tricia says she has always struggled with anxiety and depression and her year-long battle for legal status has only made it worse.

She’s had to stop working and can’t provide for Mona, who has recently recovered from a second cancer battle, is a type 2 diabetic and suffers from dementia.

“I was told there wasn’t enough evidence to prove my mother had indefinite leave to remain,” she told the Gazette. “They put me through it for almost a year.

“I’ve not been able to work. I’ve never been on benefits and I’ve always worked – now I can’t.

“But I’m so happy now, it feels like a weight has been lifted. The Gazette were the first people to make something happen in 11 months. I want to raise awareness of this because there will be others in the same situation.”

Tricia has now been told a new application form will be sent out free of charge, and the process should be completed by the end of September.

“I didn’t think it would happen so quickly,” she said. “I’m only 21 and I’ve been going through a lot. I’ve always had anxiety and depression but I could control it, but it’s come back really bad.

“My mum is OK. She’s a Caribbean woman so she’s very hard-headed. But it’s obviously financially tough for her. She’s living on £150 every two weeks and I can’t help.

“As the person who keeps the house maintained and makes sure she attends all her appointments and takes her medication; I already have a lot of stress at home and not being able to earn a living has caused me to become more and more depressed each day. My independence has been taken away from me.

“I’ve always been very independent and I’ve been stuck in my house cleaning and cooking or walking the dog.

“I can’t go out and get my nails done or get my hair done like my friends do. I want to work – it’s all I want to do.”

Tricia dreams of being a dance teacher or running her own restaurant, but at the moment she’s just desperate for her nightmare to end.

Islington Council’s migrant champion Sue Lukes said she was very concerned to hear about Tricia’s situation.

She said: “It is an example of how deep the problems with the Home Office go, far beyond the scandal of the treatment of the Windrush generation.

“All too often it has failed to keep adequate records, but then proceeds to blame individuals in need of documents.

“We hope Tricia has got, or will get, good quality legal advice to challenge the Home Office, and would encourage her to contact Islington Law Centre, which the council funds to support residents in Tricia’s position.

“We also urge her and her mother to contact their local councillors, or me as migrant champion, to see if we can help in any way.

“Tricia and her mother are Islington residents, and we are on their side.”

The Home Office said: “We are in touch with Ms Persad and are working to resolve her case.”