I was unaware of the legality surrounding my being in the UK until I was a teenager in secondary school. I did not go on trips that were abroad even though I really wanted to. My mum had said we couldn’t afford it, so I believed her. In truth, it was because I was undocumented. I only realised the seriousness of not having a legal status in the UK during secondary school. This is because despite feeling just as British as my school friends, I was denied certain rights and privileges.
Chasing status: Christina's story
When I was 16 my mother applied for discretionary leave to remain. Thankfully our application was successful and we were granted a temporary status called Limited Leave to Remain. I thought this meant that everything would be okay but I had a long way to go before I could apply for citizenship.
I applied for British citizenship and I was refused. I had asked for an internal review which again got refused. I was very disappointed and upset with the decision but later met an experienced lawyer from PRCBC who provided me with hope that things could still work out. I challenged the review decision in the high court which was emotionally stressful and financially taxing. The review was not covered by legal aid, so I paid small contributions throughout to help fund my case.
My case was settled in July 2015. Two months before I was due to begin university I was granted British citizenship. There were times I was wrought with helplessness and negativity but I am very fortunate that things worked out as they did. There are so many young people who are still going through what I went through.
Since gaining my citizenship I have gone on to achieve many things. I am going into my final year at university after completing a placement where I was a research assistant to a renowned business psychologist. I am a student ambassador at university and work closely with the ‘Widening Participation’ department to increase the university’s engagement with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am also the co-founder and secretary of the Women in Business Society at my University. I have completed several internships and plan to continue to do so. None of this would have been possible if PRCBC had not helped me to gain citizenship.
This is what I achieved in three short years and it is just the beginning.