Sophie Kelly 0

The Tragic Truth that is the Home Office Flaws; Saf's Story:

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Read this full story. This is no ordinary immigration story – Does this sound like someone who does not belong in our country? Help us in exposing the ignorant flaws of the Home Office. Saf’s Story:

Christelene Steinhobel, also known as ‘Saf’, moved to the UK in June 2003 from South Africa, with entry clearance as a child dependant on her mothers work permit. She has a father in South Africa with whom she has no relationship with, and who has refused to support her. She entered the UK as a year 8 student in Chesterfield where she completed her GCSE’s in 2007 and A Levels in 2009; she has spent all of her secondary and tertiary educational years in the UK including her enrolment at Loughborough College to carry out her degree. There are no cultural or family ties in South Africa and she very much considers herself British.

Tragically, her mother was diagnosed with cancer in December 2006 and died on the 8th June 2009. During her 3 years of illness her brother and Saf took care of her mother whilst completing their studies. When Saf’s brother, who is settled and married in the UK now, went to university, she became the primary carer. With her mother dying she was no longer a child dependant on her work permit and had to go back to S.A to apply for a student visa to pursue further studies at Loughborough College. If her mother was alive for just 8 months longer Saf would be a legal resident right now. She was unquestionably granted a scholarship at Loughborough College due to excellence in cricket, allowing her to be a part of the MCC cricket Academy of Loughborough University.

As well as representing Loughborough University with her cricket, she also represented Derbyshire County for 8 years (age 13-21) and has represented Warwickshire County for the last 2 years in Division One as a loan player. Through the years she has played cricket, she also was scouted to take part in Junior Super 4’s for 3 years - the 52 best girls in the country to compete against each other in 4 teams.

It has been 2 years since submitting and waiting for her visa; she has not been able to finish her studies or work since 2011. Her Visa is compulsory for her to be able to graduate and collect her degree in Sport Science where she plans to work and support herself financially. For 2 years it has been very hard sitting and ‘waiting’ for the Home Office’s decision, after which they have turned around and simply declined and said, “You still have a tie in South Africa”. She doesn’t. For 2 years ‘waiting’ she has had far bigger aspirations to achieve and relish opportunity but has been restrained by this unfortunate Home Office bureaucracy rather than making the most of the opportunities around her. She was commendably offered an interview with Creative Fitness Marketing, a highly competitive role, but sadly, waiting on this Visa, the opportunity has passed; it is opportunities like these that she desperately wants to embrace.

These 2 years Saf has been a tremendous friend to many, an incredible addition to the community and a fantastic sportswoman. Despite testimony from her players, her coaches, her College, her brother, her church, her Solicitor and people she regards as family, the Home Office, to someone so passionate and hard-working and wanting to give to British Society, declined her Visa application on the 21st June 2013. This Nit-picking decision is unjust and inhumane and we must fight in giving Saf a voice.

Reasons Saf’s application got declined:

1. She hadn’t spent half her life in the UK at the time of submitting the application:It was pointed out that when she came over to the UK she was 12 and at the time of her application she had been here for 8years. (It has now been 10). All tertiary and higher education has been spent here in the UK and this is where she has built her life. If her mother was alive for just 8 months longer she would be a legal resident right now.

2. Secondly, even though she stated in her application that she has very little contact with her father in South Africa and that he is unwilling to provide ongoing support if she was to return to South Africa, the Home Office letter simply states, "However, you do still have this tie in South Africa”.

3. Thirdly, she stated that she has no social or cultural ties to South Africa. To this the Home Office reply was, “but during your time in the UK you have made two trips to South Africa as witnessed in your passports. The most recent being from the 29th August 2009 until 23rd October 2009. These trips clearly count as social and cultural ties.” Her first trip was in 2006 to represent Derbyshire County on tour in Cape Town – she has no family in a 500mile radius of Cape Town. Her second visit was in 2009; she had to go back to South Africa because her mother died in order to apply for a student visa to commence her studies in Loughborough. Not only did she have to deal with the death of her mother at this time of application as an 18 year old young lady, she also had to manage a University application and look after herself, and the Home Office wants to use this against her!

The Home Office is clamping down on immigration yes, but I repeat, does this really sound like someone we do not want in our country? Help us in our appeal and fight for justice by signing this petition. #safstory

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