A British student, Michael Omidire, has been stranded in Kenya since September because officials have refused to issue him with emergency documents. Omidire was born and raised in England and has no ties to Kenya. He traveled to East Africa with his friends for a week of vacation before the start of his university semester.
He is a second-year economics and Italian student at Cardiff University. He traveled to Kenya on his Ghanaian passport three months ago and is now stranded there due to paperwork delays. The 21-year-old missed his birthday with his family in London earlier this month and will most likely miss Christmas as well.
He attempted to check in for his flight home after spending time with friends in Kenya, but airline officials informed him that he lacked the necessary documentation to fly back to the UK. He then contacted UK consular officials, but three months later, he has yet to receive a positive response. Because his parents were not British citizens, Omidire, who was born in Milton Keynes in 2001 to a Ghanaian mother and a Nigerian father, had to go through naturalisation to gain citizenship. He went to his citizenship ceremony this summer.
Despite the fact that he has a Ghanaian passport, a digital copy of his indefinite leave to remain certificate, and a copy of his naturalisation papers with him in Kenya, airline staff are refusing to let him fly back to the UK for fear of being fined.
“My assumption was that I could travel on the Ghanaian document. I made a mistake but I thought it could be sorted out quickly. I’m not sure I will be able to get back this year,” he was quoted by The Guardian.
Some UK officials have advised him to apply for a visa to the UK so far. Others recommend that he apply for a passport as an overseas Kenyan resident or as a British citizen. According to another suggestion, he could apply for right of abode in the United Kingdom.
“The main thing I’ve gathered is that most of the people who are supposed to help don’t really care. This could have been dealt with in a matter of weeks,” said Omidire.
“Published guidance is clear that applications for a first time British passport from overseas will take longer,” a government spokesperson said. To prove their right of abode in the UK, all British citizens who wish to travel to the UK must have a British passport or a certificate of entitlement in their foreign passport.”
Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo believes that, while Omidire made a mistake, officials would have resolved his situation by now if the young student were a white British citizen stranded abroad without a passport.
Omidire is facing immigration fines in Kenya since he has overstayed his one-month visa. “I’ve never faced so many problems. It’s astonishing that I am not allowed back home.”