Tooting student may miss out on uni place over Home Office delays
An A* student cannot take up a place at a top university or get a job because of Home Office delays over her immigration status.
Shanique Blake, 18, of Dewey Street, Tooting, who originally comes from Jamaica is an exemplary student at Burntwood School and has lived in Britain since she was six years old
She has won a place to study criminal psychology at Durham Univerity but will lose it unless the Home Office processes her application for leave to remain in the UK by September.
Without it she cannot get the student loan she needs to pay the £9,000 a year tuition fees.
After a four year wait she is still in limbo and with a passport Miss Blake cannot get a job or go on holiday abroad.
Miss Blake, initially came to the UK on holiday aged six.
Her mother then wrote a letter to Diane Johnson, who is now her guardian, asking to take over her care, as she could not afford to educate her back home.
The teenager, who has lived in Tooting ever since, lost touch with her family many years ago, with no idea where her mother is living now.
In 2005 a judge granted her discretionary leave to stay in the UK for three years, concluding the case was exceptional.
Mrs Johnson submitted her passport to the Home Office in 2008 for leave to remain but is still waiting despite a lengthy correspondence.
MP Sadiq Khan has taken up her case and in the latest letter he has received the Home Office cited a back log of applications as the reason for the delay.
Mrs Holmes, 58, a shop worker said: "I just get so upset about it, it is not fair on her. She is really bright, she is expected to get A*, she got As in her AS Levels.
"She has got an offer to go to a really good university and because the Home Office has dragged their feet so much I don't know if Shanique is going to go to university this year.
"And because also she hasn't got a passport with a stamp to say she is a member of this country, she can't get a job.
"We are in limbo. If I could afford it I would send Shanique there no question, whatsover, we just haven't got the money to do it and the Home Office has just dragged their feet so much."
She said the youngster would have no family if she was sent back to Jamaica.
In her spare time Miss Blake has volunteered at Oxfam, as well as being part of Burntwood School's rowing team.
She said: "I don't talk about it with my friends, they are all off to university this year. They are all going on holiday and stuff, and I can't go with them.
"And then because I'm 18 they all want to go away, abroad and on holiday, to celebrate finishing ALevels - and I just can't go."
MP Sadiq Khan said he frequently deals with similar cases, causing stress and hardship unnecessarily.
He said: "Shanique has been in the UK since she was 6 years old, she’s been educated here, is a star pupil and is a credit to her school, those who brought her up and her community.
"It’s hugely disappointing her education and future career are being jeopardised by these delays.I will of course continue to support her case until we have a satisfactory outcome."
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "The Home Office don't usually comment on immigration cases.
"We are in touch with Miss Blake to resolve her status, she has had a bit of trouble and we are working with her and trying to do it as soon as possible.
"We are fully aware of the situation and working with her now to resolve it."