Bid to save Tayport widow from deportation

A widow who has helped raise her granddaughters in Fife for almost a decade, is facing deportation to Ukraine.

By Jamie Callaghan
Friday, 21st June 2019, 5:02 pm
MP Stephen Gethins and Valentyna Yakovleva.
MP Stephen Gethins and Valentyna Yakovleva.

Valentyna Yakovleva, who has no other family, came to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Tayport more than nine years ago. If sent back to Ukraine, the 69-year-old has no way of supporting herself or having access to crucial medication.

Her son-in-law Dr Andrij Sukhodub said Valentyna, who suffers from various health issues, would not survive being sent back to Ukraine.

He said: “The only people who survive in Ukraine are those who are young and fit. She has no family there and her pension was frozen around seven years ago with no prospect of her ever having any access to it. Valentyna is our family. She has brought up our children and been part of this community for almost a decade. Sending her back will be an absolute breach of her human rights and devastating for all of us.”

Valentyna was granted several visitor visas between 2001 and 2011 but her application to for Indefinite Leave to Remain on compassionate grounds was rejected in late 2011. She tried again in 2014 under the 10 Year Family and Private Life route but was again refused with no right of appeal.

In September 2015 she was served with a notice saying she was a person liable for removal as an ‘overstayer’ and despite yet another application for Leave to Remain under the European Convention on Human Rights she was again refused and served with another ‘overstayer’ notice.

The family turned to solicitors for help but despite being led to believe Valentyna’s case may be eligible for a judicial review, in 2018 they were dealt a further blow when a bid to appeal to the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber was thrown out. The family, who say she only overstayed her visa because of incorrect legal advice, have now appealed to UK Visa and Immigration Service for clarity after the Home Office wrote to her to say the frequency of her reporting to them had been relaxed from a 12 weekly basis to six monthly, yet also told her she has no basis of stay in the UK and should make arrangements to leave.

The family has received help from local MP Stephen Gethins, who said: “I am extremely concerned that the Home Office is putting in so much effort to have her removed. To live in fear they will come and get her at any hour or the day or night is horrendous. I have written to the Home Secretary and hope common sense will prevail.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Mrs Yakovleva’s application to remain in the UK was refused as it did not meet the requirements of the immigration rules. This decision has been backed up by an independent immigration judge.”