BY JAMES TWOMEY
A jazz singer has won her right to remain in the UK after the Home Office threatened her with deportation.
Bumi Thomas, 36, lives in Beckenham and had been told by the Home Office she would have to leave the country, despite being born in the UK.
At one point, Bumi was given 14 days to leave the country but she took her case to an immigration tribunal hearing, and the judge ruled that she could remain in the UK.
“I’m exhausted,” Bumi said. “The accumulation of stress and tiredness meant that when I got the result I was relieved but just crashed.
“I was giddy. So happy. It was so surreal. The judgement was delivered five days after the hearing and my solicitor called to tell me. I was elated. It was child-like joy and disbelief. It’s been a massive exhalation since then.”
Bumi was born in Glasgow in June 1983, just months after the British Nationality Act was introduced, which removed birthright citizenship from people born in the UK to parents who were not settled, held indefinite leave to remain or were British at the time of their birth.
Bumi discovered there was a problem with her status when she was denied a British passport in 2009.
Since then the Home Office granted her two two periods of discretionary leave to remain but in June this year she was told she no longer had the right to remain in the UK as her relationship with a British partner had ended.
“A lot of people are confused by this policy,” said Bumi. “It has been amended a few times and has changed the status of those born to parents who were not born here. I have heard of people who have lived in the UK for 20 or 30 years and are being told to leave.
“It’s a remarkable feeling to be told I can stay. I’m not fragmented anymore. It was so confusing having to think about where I am in my head and my heart and I’m so relieved I’m not being uprooted.
“My belonging has been confirmed through judicial process but it was such an ordeal to confirm my birthright and through the other side of it I am suffering with PTSD.
“I’m also left wondering how many other people are at this stage in their lives. Hopefully other people can use this legal precedent in their fight.
“It’s a mixed bag of happiness with the decision but knowing there’s a wider problem that still needs to be addressed.
Bumi has enjoyed musical success having performed on BBC radio and her contribution to British culture was recognised as a reason for allowing her to stay in the UK.
“Jazz is at the heart of what I do,” said Bumi. “I think the renaissance that jazz is having – particularly in London – at the moment is wonderful.
“It’s inspiring how a lot of the artists are second generation from other realms of the world and they are making this significant contribution to the British experience.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We have noted the courts judgement and have written to Ms Thomas about her case.”