A mum who was at risk of deportation despite having lived in the UK for 23 years has been allowed to remain in the country.
Hildah Odeyo was left unable to work and facing eviction from her Leeds home after a missing passport meant the Home Office would not process her application to remain.
Miss Odeyo, who is originally from Kenya, was previously granted leave to stay in the UK, but a stricter interpretation of the rules meant the Home Office said her latest application was not valid without a passport.
Miss Odeyo, who has a 14-year-old daughter in this country, said the Home Office lost her passport in 1999 and she has since been trying to retrieve it.
Yesterday Miss Odeyo, of Brackenwood, said she planned to return to work as a healthcare assistant after being told she would not be forced to leave the country.
She said she expects to find out how long she has been allowed to stay for when formal notification arrives from the Home Office.
She said: “I’m so happy they have given me leave to stay. I’m thrilled that I can go back to work. I have been in training.”
Miss Odeyo said she is also hoping to go back to university to complete a nursing degree.
She said: “I’m in debt now. I have to work hard to pay off the debt and to go to university.
“I can start my life again. It will be a long journey for me.”
On September 4 the Yorkshire Evening Post first told how Miss Odeyo, who was being helped by her MP Fabian Hamilton, faced being made homeless after being left unable to work.
Two weeks later, hopes were raised that she could stay after the Home Office asked her to supply her fingerprints, an indication that a biometric residence permit could be issued. But Government officials could not confirm this at the time.
Miss Odeyo “It’s just been so terrible. I just feel so bad for them to have taken away my status.”
While Miss Odeyo has been allowed to stay in the country for the time being, she may still have to vacate her house and fears continuing to face problems because of her missing passport.
She added: “I’m just praying that they do something about my passport. I hope they will give me letter I can take to the Kenyan Embassy. If they don’t it’s going to repeat itself.”
The Home Office previously said it had supplied copies of Miss Odeyo’s passport to the Kenyan Embassy.
A legal expert who has been representing Miss Odeyo welcomed the decision by the Home Office.
Paul Hindley, a Senior Caseworker at Rotherham-based Parker Rhodes Hickmotts Solicitors, said: “Obviously we’re delighted Hildah has obtained the status but we feel she has only been put in this position by an overly inflexible and dogmatic application of the rules by the Home Office.
“Had a more common sense approach been adopted at an earlier stage of proceedings, the emotional and financial traumas Hildah has had to endure could, and should have been, avoided.”