Italian grandmother who has lived in UK for 42 years told to leave

todayDecember 8, 2023 3

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Italian grandmother who has lived in UK for 42 years told to leave

An Italian woman who has lived in the UK for 42 years has been ordered to leave or face prosecution.

Leonarda Zarcone, 74, who has three children and four grandchildren in the UK, was born in Italy and has French citizenship.

After moving to the UK permanently with her husband, Marcel Brunetto, in 1981, they settled in Leicester and opened a fish and chip shop.

After the UK left the EU in 2020, her family applied for and were granted settled status, but the Home Office requested more information on Ms Zarcone before they approved her application.

An email from the government went into the grandmother’s spam emails, and she did not see it. Last month, she got a letter ordering her to leave the country.

Ms Zarcone told the SWNS news agency: “When I opened the letter it was the shock of my life. All my family and my roots are here. It’s really frightening. I have nowhere to go.

“I moved to this country 42 years ago with my husband. We raised our three children here and ran a business together here.

“I have paid National Insurance, taxes and lived an honest life. My family have made their lives here and my youngest daughter was born in the UK. We even support Leicester City football team, this is our home.”

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Tough visa rules for foreign workers

Ms Zarcone only found out about her situation with the Home Office after she was stopped by an immigration officer when returning from France in September after a family wedding.

She was eventually allowed through border control at East Midlands Airport with a 28-day visitor stamp which has now expired.

“I am now an illegal immigrant and all because of an email which was sent to my junk folder,” she added.

“I am not great with computers. It makes me cry to think I will be sent away from this country and my family because of this.”

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Ms Zarcone’s son David, who also lives in Leicester, said: “My mum’s records prove that she has been living here for decades.

“She’s receiving a state pension, so she’s paid into the system. She’s paid her taxes.

“She’s paying council tax. There’s lots of proof.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All EU Settlement Scheme applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules.

“A wide range of support remains available for applicants, including vulnerable people.

“This includes support through a Grant Funded Network of third party organisations dedicated to assisting vulnerable people with their applications.”

Written by: Newsroom

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