Waiting years for visa to live in the UK …”THE SUFFERING OF A TRINI FAMILY”

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Imagine having to choose between paying for accommodation to keep a roof over your head and putting your savings towards an application to stay in the country you call home.

This is the decision Peter, 57, a Trinidadian, had to make in 2016 when his family were made homeless for a month because their landlord wanted the property back. They struggled to find someone else who would rent to them, given their short-term visa at the time.

They were forced to use the savings they had for their Home Office fees to find daily accommodation.

The story was carried in Monday’s edition of the London Guardian.

Peter added, “We had to choose between saving for our next visa and finding a place to stay. We couldn’t move to another flat because our visas had limited time and no one wanted to rent to us. With all our troubles, we sought help and advice from different agencies, but no one showed any interest,” Peter said.

The whole process took two years and during that time, Peter and his wife were not allowed to work. “We struggled to meet our living expenses, having to borrow from friends and family, and doing side jobs,” he said.

Peter made the difficult decision to use money left to his children by their grandmother for their education to pay fees. “It was a very hard decision to make … But I had to access funds for their future to make sure they had stability in the present,” he said.

The family had less than two years to get £6,500 to renew their visa. They did this while repaying debts from borrowing for the first visa, Peter said. They also had to meet living expenses on modest salaries. At the time, Peter’s wife was working in education and he was doing odd jobs.

The applications were sent in October 2016, and in March 2017, the family were advised to send in fee waiver forms because they did not have enough money. Their applications were rejected.

New applications and fee waiver forms were sent in January, but they were also rejected. The family reapplied in June and are awaiting a response from the Home Office.

“I try not to [worry about money] as I know I cannot do anything about it, but I worry about what will happen to my children if we are kicked out on to the streets,” Peter said.

“Throughout this whole process, my 16-year-old has experienced living in hostels and been in rooms with other adult males as we couldn’t afford our own room. That is very painful, thinking I have had to put my children through that.

“We are a family that has used its life savings to be here and invest in its children’s future … The government needs to understand that for us, and many families like us, we have paid a huge, life-altering amount of money and have to continue paying, making unsettling sacrifices to stay in the country. People like us face the risk of never being able to recover from the level of poverty that we are driven to.”

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