A WOMAN who was adopted and brought to the UK as a child more than 30 years ago has been told she must now go through the naturalisation process to become a British citizen.
Glenda Hyde, who lives in Welburn, was born in the US and placed into care until she was three years old when she was adopted by a British couple.
The family moved to England in 1974, when Glenda was seven.
Mrs Hyde, 46, said she had lived in the country since and had only been abroad once, when she was 18.
“I got my National Insurance number without any problem and married my first husband when I was 20 without any issues,” she said.
“We had three children who are all UK and British citizens and I was widowed in 2000.”
Mrs Hyde said it was not until she met her second husband, Nicholas, that problems occurred.
“We applied to the local register office and was told I couldn’t marry there because I wasn’t a British citizen as I had an American birth certificate, and after being passed between immigration and the passport office the conclusion was that I could face deportation,” she said.
“Fortunately our church in Welburn agreed to marry us, but it was at this point that I realised there was an issue.”
Mrs Hyde was told that because her parents had not registered her when she was a child, as immigration rules and laws were very different at that time, she would have to apply for naturalisation to prove her entitlement to live in the UK.
As part of the process, residents are required to take a “Life in the UK” test, which costs £906, to demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge of the English language, however exemptions can be made on medical grounds.
Mrs Hyde has high blood pressure, a number of heart issues and is confined to a wheelchair. She has also recently been diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnoea.
“The Home Office has been informed about my medical conditions, but I was told that there was not sufficient medical evidence in my case that these were permanent,” she said.
Mrs Hyde said that she had attended the testing centre in Leeds last month, however, because she did not have a photo ID, she was unable to take the test. “I got very distressed and suffered a black-out at the centre,” she said.
“I was also told I had lost my £50 booking fee for the test and that there were no more sessions until August – I just can’t afford to keep paying out if I fail the test or pass out again.
“I am due to go to university in September to start a counselling degree, but because of this I am unable to apply for funding because I cannot prove I am in this country legally, even though I have lived and worked here most of my life, paid my taxes, brought up three children and been married twice and am now facing this treatment because of changes to the law since I was brought to this country.”
Ryedale CAB, which has been assisting Mrs Hyde, has written to the Home Office and MP Anne McIntosh on her behalf.
Solicitor Djamilla Hitchins, who works at Ryedale CAB giving immigration advice free of charge, said Mrs Hyde has been caused real distress by the process and has been on the point of giving up several times.
“However, she cannot afford to pay for a further application and she will need her citizenship to pursue her studies and for many other purposes under new regulations. Mrs Hyde feels she has been treated with real injustice and this has caused her great distress.
“She has done nothing wrong and has only tried to regularise her status as best she could.
“The rules around the Life in the UK test do not allow exemption on the grounds of long residence, but they were surely not brought in to penalise a person like Mrs Hyde, adopted by British parents in 1969 and living in the UK since 1974 and suffering from severe health problems.”
She said they had asked Ms McIntosh to contact the Immigration Minister and ask for discretion to be exercised in Mrs Hyde’s case to allow her to be exempted from the Life in the UK test, or for her to be allowed to take the test as many times as necessary without her current application being refused.
Ms McIntosh said: “I cannot comment on private matters between a constituent and their MP, other than to say I have taken the case up and am pursuing matters vigorously.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Ms Hyde is in the UK legally and is not at risk of any enforcement action. She recently submitted a naturalisation application which is currently being considered.”