“I found myself standing by the door of my daughter’s classroom. The bell rang and my heart leapt… As the door burst open, all I could hear were screams as a number of children jumped on me. I hugged them as they all shouted “well come back”. There was so much joy, happiness and laughter around my daughter and I as we finally hugged!”

This is the moment Consolata and her six-year-old daughter were reunited, after five agonising months of separation.

In December 2009, Consolata dropped her daughter off at school. She was heading to her work Christmas party in Paris, and her daughter was going to spend the evening at her dad’s house.

The party in Paris was fun. But the following morning, when she arrived at the train station to travel back to London, the immigration officer told Consolata that she had no right to re-enter the UK. With the breakdown of her marriage, she had lost her visa, and with it, her right to travel back home to her daughter.

“I sat there weeping, thinking of my daughter. It felt so surreal. Everything felt like it was spiralling out of control.”

It took five months for Consolata to be able to return to the UK and finally hold her daughter in her arms again. Friends, family, and her faith kept her going through that agonising time. Last year, she wrote about her experience in her book, “In the eye of the storm”.

Our research shows that a life crisis – such as a relationship breakdown or a health crisis – often plays a factor in a person losing their right to remain in the UK. Life is messy and complicated, and UK visas are expensive, complex and time-limited, and the rules change constantly. Rather than support people to secure their status, the Home Office spends hundreds of millions of pounds punishing people who fall out of status, with its hostile environment policies.

It doesn’t have to be this way. At JCWI, we want an immigration system that helps people to keep their status, get it back if they lose it, and always treats us with dignity and humanity. 

Take action so no one is locked out of status

If you have questions about your immigration status, you can get in touch via our helplines.