A British university student has been in Kenya since September, after being unable to return home due to the UK authorities denying him emergency travel documentation.
Michael Omidire, a young man from London with roots in the UK, faced numerous barriers to travelling home due to paperwork limitations – resulting in him missing an entire term of university. This month, he faced a disappointing 21st birthday without his family in London. With time running out, it looks like his return to the UK for Christmas is becoming increasingly unlikely as well.
Omidire, a second-year economics and Italian student at Cardiff University set off with his school friends for an exciting week of exploring Kenya. Not knowing that having only a Ghanaian passport on hand was not going to be enough when it came time to return home – the airline staff denied him the flight due to its insufficient documentation requirements!
After three months of waiting, he still remains in Kenya with no end to his limbo insight. He had hoped that the consular officials could help him swiftly return home but it hasn’t happened yet.
Omidire had made an unfortunate misstep by not obtaining a British passport before his travels. Much to his sorrow, the long and complex process of resolving this issue has dragged on for far too long. After an 11-week wait, the process for applying for a British passport from Kenya remains unresolved. He is still awaiting a response as his forms are currently being processed.
Despite his desperate plea for help, the emergency travel documentation team was unable to assist him. An official from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s document policy team regrettably informed him via email that his specific situation did not qualify as an ‘exceptional circumstance’.
In 2001 Omidire was born to a Ghanaian mother and a Nigerian father in Milton Keynes. He had to navigate the complex process of naturalisation before being granted citizenship in the UK. He finally achieved his goal of becoming a British citizen this summer. His family could not afford to support him with the naturalisation process (£1,300) until recently.
Despite having all the necessary paperwork for his travels such as a Ghanaian passport, naturalisation papers and indefinite leave to remain certificate, airline officials were hesitant to let him board – fearful of hefty fines that could result from allowing him on their flight.
Michael Omidire was confident that he could make his travels with a Ghanaian document, but after running into this problem, it looks like his return trip might not happen this year. During his lengthy stay in Kenya, UK officials have been giving the individual a variety of advice – from visa applications to request the right of abode or even applying for an overseas Kenyan passport.
He has spent more than £1,000 in phone calls alone – towards reaching an amicable resolution with UK visas and immigration offices as well as the passport office and consular services.
Despite the assurances of many, most representatives in the passport office have yet to show any substantial action towards helping this individual. Thankfully, one official has been sympathetic and willing to provide them with updates upon document approval.
Despite making an error in his paperwork, if Omidire were a white British citizen stranded abroad without their passport, the officials would have found a way to resolve the solution by now.Colin Yeo – Immigration Lawyer
Omidire has successfully adapted to his studies away from Cardiff, diligently studying remotely at the home of a school friend’s grandparents. However, he is now facing hefty immigration fines in Kenya due to an expired one-month visa.
To ensure smooth sailing into Britain, all British citizens should double check they have a valid British passport or certificate of entitlement in their foreign passports. For those applying for a first timer British passport from overseas take note that it may take longer than normal.Government Spokesperson