Vimal Pandya is appealing against the decision of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to refuse his human rights claim. Mishcon de Reya LLP has been acting for this client on a pro bono basis since January 2022.
He came to the UK as a student in January 2011, successfully completing his Advanced Diploma in Business Studies. He subsequently enrolled for a further Management and Leadership course in the UK, but was not aware that the college's sponsor license was revoked in February 2014. This resulted in our client's leave being curtailed, of which he was unaware.
In March 2014 he accompanied the daughter of a family friend to India as she was unwell. Upon his re-entry to the UK in April 2014, our client was stopped at the airport and informed for the first time that his leave had been curtailed due to his sponsor's licence being revoked. His original passport and UK BRP card were retained by the Immigration Officer.
Mr Pandya tried to rectify his UK immigration position upon returning to the UK, but faced difficulties due to his original passport being retained and not being able to sit an English language test without such original documentation. His visa application was subsequently refused in September 2014 due to a failure to submit biometrics before he could submit his English language test results.
In the meantime, he worked at a local convenience store in Rotherhithe, developing strong relationships with local residents and the community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our client was a lifeline for many vulnerable, elderly and disabled residents in the community. He felt a strong responsibility to assist those around him and delivered prescriptions and food shopping to those in need. Mr Pandya has been described as a “shining light” by local residents after dedicating his time to ensure those in self-isolation during lockdown received regular food and essential supplies, every day collecting and delivering groceries on foot until late at night, seven days a week. Vimal also called isolated and vulnerable members of the community to lend an ear and offer companionship. He directly supported dozens of local families during lockdown, forming lasting relationships, and continues to play a vital role in his community.
In February 2021, Mr Pandya received a letter from Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen thanking him for his 'exceptional contribution' to UK society during the pandemic.
In May 2021, Immigration Officers came to Mr Pandya's place of work and detained him due to not having the relevant visa to allow him to work in the UK. He was released the same day and served with a notice of liability to removal. Our client's former solicitors submitted a response to such notice, raising human rights grounds. This claim was refused by the Home Office in January 2022, and a notice of appeal was filed to the immigration tribunal by Mr Pandya's current legal representatives.
Mr Pandya's appeal hearing took place at Hatton Cross First-tier Tribunal centre on 13 January 2023. Mr Pandya was supported by many members of his local community, who joined the hearing both in person and via video link, as well as his closest friends providing witness testimony at the hearing. We are expecting to receive the written decision from the judge within the next 4 weeks.
Mr Pandya is supported by very close friends and residents in the Rotherhithe community, who have shown overwhelming support for him to remain in the UK. His GoFundMe page has raised £21,060 and the petition for him to remain in the UK on change.org has over 165,000 signatures.
Vimal is supported by Hannah Barnett and Lucie Betts at Mishcon de Reya LLP on a pro bono basis. Please direct any queries to CommunicationsTeam@mishcon.com.