The Home Office has been accused of being “cruel and insensitive” after a woman was threatened with deportation despite being in a coma in hospital.
Bhavani Esapathi, 31, who was in a vegetative state for a week and a half after undergoing a major operation, received a letter stating that her application for leave to remain had been refused and that she was liable to be forcibly removed.
The Indian national’s fiance, Martin Mangler, 33, appealed against the decision while she was still unconscious, providing medical letters from her doctors stating that her life would be at risk if she were to travel.
But the Home Office said that while the medical treatment she was receiving was “unlikely” to be available to the same standard in India, this did not entitle her to remain in the UK – and that she could receive “palliative care” in her home country if the appropriate treatment wasn’t available there.
Lawyers and politicians said the case demonstrated how UK immigration rules were permitting the government to “send people to their death abroad” as part of the hostile environment.
It marks the latest in a string of cases in which Home Office decisions to refuse immigration applications have been met with outrage from campaigners.
Ms Esapathi, who came to the UK on a study visa in 2010 and proceeded to work in the arts industry before she fell ill with Crohn’s disease, said she would be “risking her life” if she had to leave the country.
The 31-year-old, who has set up a campaign to support immigrants and those with chronic illnesses, said: “I thought there was no way they could dispute my application. I wasn’t expecting them to say that ‘Even if the drugs aren’t available then you could receive palliative care’.
“I’m trying to be rational. I don’t think they would put me on a plane if they actually saw me. I have tubes all over me. But then I also read stories about them coming to get people with no time to get legal representation.”