A 53-year-old Worthing man with special needs, who has lived in the UK for 14 years, faces being deported to Zimbabwe after a ‘genuine mistake’ saw him overstay his visa.
Dwayne Putnam, of Brougham Road, Worthing, who is autistic and has tourettes, has been told he has to leave the country – despite having ancestral rights to live in the UK and no family to care for him in his home country, according to his niece.
Alicia Minshull-Putnam, 28, has started a petition to publicise her uncle’s plight and said: “This is a very sad time for us and I feel sick in my stomach at the prospect of losing one of my uncles, who simply cannot survive without his family.”
Dwayne followed the rest of his family to the UK in 2004 on a five year ancestral visa, due to his grandparents being British. However his visa was left to expire for three years due to an oversight by his relatives – who admit this was a ‘colossal error’.
His family highlighted the situation with the Home Office immediately and were prepared to pay a fine.
But Alicia said they have been faced with ‘one obstacle after another’ in ‘a very long, painful process’ and – after several years and £10,500 spent trying to resolve the issue – the Home Office has decided that Dwayne must leave.
Alicia, who lives in Leconfield Road, Lancing, with her wife, worries about Dwayne’s health if he is deported and said: “He has no one to go back to, no place to call home.”
She said Dwayne, who lives with his elderly mother, Diana, and relies on her support, is ‘well-known’ in Worthing. He enjoys going to the town market on Wednesdays and chatting to people on the bus.
“He asks for nothing, and lives a very simple life without any burden on the state at all,” said Alicia, who works at Rectory House Nursing Home in Sompting.
“He has done nothing in life to deserve this and I feel he reserves the right to stay by his mother’s side to look after her, as she has done with him from day one.”
Dwayne has one chance to appeal the decision at a tribunal. Alicia said it might take up to a year for his case to be heard and in the meantime, Dwayne can remain.
She said of her uncle: “I don’t think he quite understands the severity, that this is the last chance.”
Alicia hopes her petition will raise awareness of Dwayne's situation - click here to sign it.
A Home Office spokesman said: “All visa applications are considered in line with the immigration rules and on the basis of the evidence provided.
"If applications are being made on the basis of medical circumstances, official supporting documentation must be submitted.”