Since September, British student Michael Omidire has been stranded in Kenya because officials have refused to issue emergency documents to him. Omidire was born in the UK and raised in London, and he has no connection with Kenya. He traveled to the East African country for a week’s holiday with his friends before the start of his university term.
He is a second-year student studying economics and Italian at Cardiff. He traveled to Kenya using his Ghanaian passport three months ago and is now stranded there due to delays with paperwork. The 21-year-old missed his birthday with his family in London this month and is likely to miss Christmas as well.
After the holiday with his friends in Kenya, he tried to check in for his flight home but airline officials told him that he did not have enough documentation to be able to fly back home to Britain. He subsequently contacted UK consular officials but he is yet to get a favorable response after three months. Born to a Ghanaian mother and Nigerian father in Milton Keynes in 2001, Omidire had to go through naturalisation to acquire citizenship because his parents were not British citizens. He attended his citizenship ceremony this summer.
Even though 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 not allowing him to fly back to Britain over fears they would be 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.
So far, some UK officials have advised him to apply for a visa to the UK. Others say he should apply for a passport as an overseas Kenyan resident, or apply as a British citizen. He could also request right of abode in the UK, per another suggestion.
“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.
A government spokesperson said: “Published guidance is clear applications for a first time British passport from overseas will take longer. All British citizens who wish to travel into the UK should hold a British passport or have a certificate of entitlement in their foreign passport to prove their right of abode in the UK.”
Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo believes that even though Omidire has made a mistake, he has no doubt that if the young student were a white British citizen stranded abroad with no passport, officials would have resolved his situation by now.
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.”