Grandmother threatened with deportation after 42 years can stay

Leonarda Zarcone
Image caption,Leonarda Zarcone has now been told she can stay the UK

By Jeremy Ball & George Torr

BBC News, East Midlands

A Leicester woman who was threatened with deportation after 42 years in the country has now been told she can stay.

Leonarda Zarcone, 74, is a French citizen who applied for EU settled status after Brexit.

Ms Zarcone said she missed the deadline to provide more information because an email ended up in a “junk folder”.

But after the BBC contacted the Home Office on Wednesday, she received an email on Friday telling her she has residency.

Reacting to the update on Friday, her son David Brunetto told the BBC: “I’m really happy. All the weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Mum is relieved… really happy.”

Ms Zarcone, who ran a chip shop in Leicester until she retired seven years ago, previously said it was “the shock of my life” to hear that she had lost her right to live in the UK.

She found out she did not have residency from an immigration officer at East Midlands Airport on her return from a family wedding in France in September.

She was eventually allowed through border control with a 28-day visitor stamp.

Ms Zarcone first lived in the UK as a child, and moved permanently with her husband and her two eldest children in 1981.

David Brunetto
Image caption,David Brunetto said his mother’s records proved she had been living in the UK for decades

In September, Ms Zarcone made a new application for settled status.

But that was rejected as “invalid” and her visitor’s visa had expired.

She then received a letter from the Home Office spelling out the “consequences of staying in the UK unlawfully”.

Those consequences included being detained or prosecuted, removed from the UK, or being charged for NHS medical treatment.

Tito Mbariti, from Cross Border Legal Solicitors – which represented Ms Zarcone – added: “[It is] absolutely great, very happy. It’s a shame we had to do it, it’s obvious this person belongs here.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All EU Settlement Scheme applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules.

“A wide range of support remains available for applicants, including vulnerable people. This includes support through a grant-funded network of third party organisations dedicated to assisting vulnerable people with their applications.”

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