Mimi moved to London from Nigeria in 2009 for her postgraduate studies. In this guest blog she shares her story of being detained by the Home Office and how after years of fighting, support from North Kensington Law Centre meant she was granted residence.
Life as we know is it is full of challenges and everyone has a story of how they have overcome a difficult circumstance that should have torn them apart. Challenges will always come but it is how we respond to them that is the big question.
I came in to the United Kingdom in 2009 for my postgraduate studies, completed my studying in 2010 and got a work permit that secured me a job with the NHS. Life was good at the time until the government changed and the immigration policies changed in late 2014. I was in the office and immigration law enforcement officers came and took me to detention for not having the right document to work and hence my visa was cancelled and I was supposed to be deported on the flight to Nigeria.
I was so devastated and in a state of shock. I could not eat or do anything in detention for the first two weeks. The only thing that kept me going was my faith and strong belief that with God nothing is impossible and looking at past experiences where God helped me gave me hope that he could make a way this time. I called six different lawyers and one of the best law firms in London but they all said it was a hopeless situation and they could do nothing as it was almost Christmas and they were wrapping up for the year.
I had no knowledge of the immigration system and detention so I was clueless and just accepted what they told me. But then again I still held on tight to my faith that God can intervene and change any situation. On the 13th of January I was released from detention and put on reporting conditions until my case was reviewed. It was again rejected the following year and I was detained, but this time around I was much stronger as I now had better understanding of how immigration and detention worked. I was fortunate to be put in a room with someone who paid for my legal fees I was only held there for two weeks and I was released without any legal action or court hearing. Coincidentally, we were released on the same day and we didn’t plan it. All my outstanding bills were sorted and life got better again. In 2016 I started participating in activities with the Jesuit Refugee Service, The Refugee Council and other charities that support refugees. I built relationships and friendships, went to college, got a mentorship opportunity, while waiting for my case.
After so many rejections, my fresh claim application was rejected again and this was my last try. I had exhausted all my applications in the UK. I had no money and no one to turn to. Then I met Anita from Wilson solicitors in East Finchley who took up my case and passed my information to North Kensington Law Centre. Annie at NKLC was so helpful and professional even though we had a tight deadline to meet and for the first time under legal aid. I didn’t have to pay expensive legal fees. Thankfully the Home Office withdrew their decision after she sent a pre-legal action letter showing where there were errors in the law from their decision. They responded and gave me a right of appeal. On June 22 2019, my case was heard again in court, thanks to North Kensington Law Centre and this time it was good news. After paying so many solicitors who did nothing on my case I was granted my residence after four years of fighting, waiting and trusting in God. Annie Campbell was a blessing and I am so grateful to have met her and I can’t thank her enough for her legal assistance and all the staff of NLKC.
It was a long journey to freedom and I am thankful for all that I went through and have no regrets. It was a win-win situation and a happy ending. I am so grateful to everyone in NKLC who helped with my case.
About the Author
Mimi is Nigerian, and moved to to London in 2009 for her postgraduate studies. She hopes to start her PHD in 2020. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, music spending time with friends and family, sightseeing and travelling.