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How Ghanaian was told he’s not British after residing in UK for 42 years

After living in the UK for almost 50 years, Nelson Shardey, a Ghanaian, would have to wait another decade for the Home Office to grant him permanent residency.

The 10-year route to settlement in the UK allows migrants to apply for indefinite leave to remain after residing in the country for that span. 

This route is available to those who have lived in the UK for a substantial period of time already — including people with partners who are British citizens, or children who are British citizens and have lived in the UK for at least seven years.

The route also covers those who have maintained valid leave to remain over the 10-year period and have not been out of the UK for more than 540 days in total or six months at a time. 

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According to the BBC, Shardey had for many years assumed he was officially British after he first arrived in the UK in 1977 to study accountancy on a student visa that also allowed him to work.

The Ghanaian took on a series of jobs and said no one ever queried his right to live or work in the UK.

The report added that he married a British woman and moved to Wallasey to run his own business — a newsagent called Nelson’s News.

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When his marriage to a Briton ended, he married another British woman and they had two sons — Jacob and Aaron.

Shardey said he never left the UK, as he saw no need to, and regarded the country as his home.

“Nobody questioned me. I bought all my things on credit, even the house,” BBC quoted the retired newsagent as saying.

“I got a mortgage. And nobody questioned me about anything.”

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The 74-year-old has performed jury service. In 2007, he was given a police award for bravery after tackling a robber who was attacking a delivery man with a baseball bat.

Shardey said he was confronted with a rude shock in 2019 when he applied for a passport so he could go back to Ghana following the death of his mother. It was then the Home Office told him he had no right to be in the UK in the first place.

Authorities told him to apply for the 10-year route to settlement which costs about £7,000, with a further £10,500 over the same period, to access the national health scheme.

“I cannot afford to pay any part of the money they are asking,” said Shardey, who is recovering from prostate cancer.

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“Telling me to go through that route is a punishment, and it’s not fair in any way.

“I don’t understand why this fuss at all, because I put my life, my whole self into this country.”

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The order means Shardey will not be allowed to stay in the UK permanently until he is 84.

Nicola Burgess, a lawyer at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU), is now taking the Home Office to court on Shardey’s behalf.

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BBC said the Home Office declined to comment on the case.

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