"If I was to return to India, I would have nowhere to go"
More than 60,000 people have backed a widow’s bid to stay in the UK amid fears she will be deported to India and spend the rest of her life alone.
Gurmit Kaur Sahota arrived in the UK from India to attend a wedding in 2009 and settled in Smethwick where she volunteers in the community.
She reportedly has two brothers and grown-up children in the UK.
Gurmit applied for a visa to live in the UK legally after her multi-visit visa expired in June 2010, however, after years of waiting, her bid to stay indefinitely was rejected.
In early 2020, Gurmit received a letter from a UK Border Agency contractor threatening “further action to secure your removal from the UK”.
The letter stated: “There are only a small minority of people living in the UK illegally.
“Despite numerous efforts to contact you by letter and telephone you have not responded and our records show that you have not yet left the United Kingdom.
“If you fail to respond we will have to refer your case onto the UK Border Agency to consider taking further action to secure your removal from the United Kingdom.”
She is fighting to stay in the UK, saying Smethwick was her “true home”. The 75-year-old widow has said that she found her place working to give back to the community who welcomed her here.
Now, over 60,000 people have signed an online petition, demanding that she be allowed to remain and calling her an “asset to Smethwick”.
Gurmit has also received support from organisations such as Migrant Voice.
With the help of a translator, Gurmit said:
“If I was to return to India, I would have nowhere to go and no home to return to, and I have no family there.
“I fear the loneliness and the impact on my mental health going back there all alone.
“Being here in Smethwick is my true home, it’s where I work to help the community, it’s where I give back, it’s where I know and love the people who have become my family.
“The people in the temple here have become my true family.
“This is the society I am part of and the place I have made my home.
“I have spent my life helping and giving to others and want to be able to continue to do this.”
The ‘We are all Gurmit Kaur’ campaign leader X’ian said she first met the widow at a Black Lives Matter protest in Victoria Park.
X’ian said: “She came over to me, handing out fruit at a Black Lives Matter protest.
“I couldn’t speak to her fully as I don’t speak Punjabi but then I heard some of her story from people involved in her case and I had to help.
“My background is Jamaican and Sikh, and I’m involved with a lot of protests in the city.
“Issues like the Windrush scandal really affect me. Seeing this Sikh lady who feels like she’s at risk of being deported, it’s like seeing my grandmother need help.”
Gurmit has said that she is deeply touched by the support she has received.
However, the Home Office said they have not pursued Gurmit for illegally living in the UK since 2013.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office has not contacted Ms Kaur Sahota since 2013, so it is wrong to claim we have been pursuing deportation.
“We are happy to speak to Ms Kaur Sahota on next steps to resolve this matter.”