'This has completely ruined my life" - Young man branded illegal immigrant after 10 years living in Wigan
A man who has lived in Wigan since childhood was stunned to be told he is an illegal immigrant who might even be deported.
South African-born Cheslyn Kalamdien moved to Wigan when he was just 11 years old, after his now estranged mum married his stepdad. Over the past decade, Cheslyn has attended high school, achieved his GCSEs, worked in paying jobs and claimed benefits.
But it was when he was asked to complete a habitual residence test by the JobCentre, that he was informed he was not an official UK citizen and would have to cease working or claiming any benefits.
The problem was apparently caused by his mum’s not filling in some Home Office paperwork properly three years after their arrival in the UK.
Shockingly and annoyingly to the 21-year-old, the one sure way of getting thrown out of the country is for him to get a job!
Cheslyn said the discovery that he had never been a legal migrant left him “in shock”.
“Wigan is my home,” he said. “I had been walking around for nearly 10 years thinking I was a British citizen.
“I have been to school here, done my GCSEs, I’ve got a national insurance number, I’ve claimed benefits - I’ve just completely slipped through the system.
“This has completely ruined my life.”
Cheslyn turned 19 when the first HRT (habitual residency test) was implemented, which first brought to light his status as an illegal immigrant.
“How was I supposed to know that at 14 things weren’t done on my behalf,” he said. “I have been trying to sort this out ever since I found out two years ago.
“It’s now got to the point where I can’t even afford a loaf of bread. I have been told I can’t work, I can’t claim.
“I am essentially homeless - I have been sleeping anywhere I can, at friends’ houses, since I was told.”
Aged just 16, Cheslyn became estranged from his mum and stepdad, but recently reached out to inform them of what has happened.
He added: “I just don’t know which way to go anymore. I have been completely stripped of my independence.”
Cheslyn has begun the process of applying for a work visa - the only option he says is on offer to him at this moment in time.
It would take around another decade for him to get full citizenship from the point where he is now.
However, before he can he apply for the work visa; he must wait to see if he is eligible for a fee waiver due to a complete lack of funds.
Cheslyn approached Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and is now being supported by her and her office.
A spokesperson for her office, said: “Cheslyn has sought Lisa’s help, and Lisa will support him in any way she can to resolve his situation.”
Now he is campaigning for the Home Office to change its system so that this does not happen to any other unsuspecting migrants.
“I just don’t understand how they can treat people like this,” he said.
“They expect me to be cool with it and wait however long and just live off air. I just want to get on with my life.
“I can’t go back to South Africa, I don’t know anything about the place but I have been told that it is too dangerous.
“They don’t have any money either so if I did go I would be homeless. I would rather be homeless here than over there.”
The Home Office was contacted for comment but were unable to elaborate on Cheslyn’s situation.
A spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”