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UK Home Office grants indefinite leave to stay to Tamil man left in immigration limbo for four decades

A Tamil man was granted indefinitely leave to remain after having lived in the UK for almost 40 years without formal immigration status. Ponnampalam Jothibala, 69, moved to the UK with a view to pursue his accountancy studies in 1983 and was instead left destitute due to a series of Home Office failures and delays. 

Read more here: Tamil man left in limbo for decades by UK Home Office failures

Jothibala told The Guardian he was overjoyed his case had finally been resolved, even though he was now “an old man”.

Last year, his solicitor, Naga Kandiah, of MTC Solicitors, sent a letter before action to the Home Office informing officials that he would be lodging judicial review proceedings if the Home Office did not speedily resolve the matter. 

He said the Home Office had rejected an application he had made under the Windrush scheme and called for an amnesty for Commonwealth citizens who arrived in the UK before 1988.

Kandiah told The Guardian, 

“This case is a sobering reminder of how a historic injustice can devastate a person’s life. My client has lost out on so many opportunities to progress in life. In 2006, his deportation order was overturned by the court but unfortunately nobody recognised that he was without formal status. After four decades in the UK I am so glad that the Home Office decided to exercise discretion and has granted him indefinite leave to remain.”

A number of cases have brought to light the UK’s belligerent immigration policies towards Tamil asylum seekers. The death of Alakaratnam Jeevithan, a Tamil asylum seeker who died of coronavirus fighting for his right to stay in the country in 2020 is one of the many examples. Last year, the UK Home Office granted asylum to a Tamil scientist and torture survivor and his family, following mounting criticism against the department’s serious procedural errors which placed the family at risk of deportation to Sri Lanka. 

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