England

Home Office delays: 'Life without a passport is unbearable'

Image copyright Yasir Habib

Hold-ups in residency applications are affecting many families, some of whom have been without their passports for up to 18 months.

Yasir Habib, 32, from London, and his wife Khadija have been in limbo for more than a year while their application is processed.

"We applied in June 2016 but have been told there are delays because my case is 'complex'," he said.

"I was working in the financial sector but am now an Uber driver and I can't change job until I get a decision because there's no certainty and nobody will take me on unless I am definitely staying here.

"I missed my sister's engagement in Pakistan because we couldn't travel and during those 15 months, we haven't seen our family."

Mr Habib, who has been living and working in the UK for nine years, paid more than £4,500 for the couple's application.

He said his wife wants to train as a maths teacher but was not allowed on a course because she does not have any documents proving her status and identity.

"There is no certainty in our life here in UK," he said.

"We cannot make any plans for the future since we don't know what is going to happen to us."

He said the stress was unbearable.

In a letter to the couple in August, the Home Office apologised for the delay but gave no idea of when a decision would be made.

It said: "It may be helpful if I explain that your case has raised some exceptionally complex issues and as such we required further time to consider the case thoroughly and undertake all the relevant standard checks. I can confirm that these checks have now been completed.

"We are unable to give a specific timeframe to confirm when the application will be concluded, however the application will be considered as soon as possible."