A French citizen is facing deportation after living legally in the UK for more than 40 years.
Leonarda Zarcone, 74, applied for EU settled status after Brexit but missed the deadline to provide more information after an email went to her junk folder.
The Home Office said it tried to contact her several times but now Ms Zarcone is facing the “shock of (her) life”.
The retired chip shop owner was told she did not have residency and had lost the right to live in the UK from an airport immigration officer when she came back to the UK after a family wedding in France in September.
She was eventually given a 28-day visitor stamp and allowed through border control.
Ms Zarcone lived in the UK as a child and moved permanently with her husband and two eldest children in 1981.
She cares for her husband and daughter and said she is worried and “really upset”.
“All my family and my roots are here. It’s really frightening,” she told the BBC.
The family ran a traditional British fish and chip shop in Leicester until she retired seven years ago.
Her son and husband also submitted EU settlement claims and were both approved, leaving Ms Zarcone to assume hers would be approved too.
But the Home Office demanded more evidence that she had lived in the UK continuously for five years and she missed the deadline to respond.
Her son David Brunetto said: “She’s receiving a state pension, so she’s paid into the system.
“She’s paid her taxes. She’s paying council tax. There’s lots of proof.”
Ms Zarcone made a new application in September which was rejected as invalid, and then her visitor’s visa expired.
She received a letter from the Home Office about the “consequences of staying in the UK unlawfully”, such as detainment, prosecution and deportation.
Ms Zarcone said her youngest daughter and grandchildren were born in Leicester, and the prospect of being separated from her family is upsetting.
She added: “I’m really sad. I’m really angry. Where can I go? When my family lives here and my children.”
She has turned to an immigration lawyer for help, Tito Mbariti, who said her case is “shocking, as bad as it gets”.
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.
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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 17:02:00