An American woman who has lived in Aberdeen for seven years has been left “shell-shocked” after being told to leave the country despite the ongoing pandemic lockdown.
Katie Collins lives in Garthdee with her partner Alan Gibb and the pair met in 2012 while working together at the same business in Houston, Texas.
The following year they moved to the Granite City and was she granted a partner visa in 2016.
However, a visit to America to look after an ill relative for 11 weeks in 2018 meant she missed the renewal date for the visa.
Katie believed she could renew it on her return to the UK but she was detained for five hours at Heathrow Airport and a visitor visa was stamped in her passport which cancelled her partner visa.
The Home Office refused her application to renew her partner visa in January telling her she was not eligible to do that as a visitor. The couple have appealed that decision.
Katie’s phone rang on Monday morning with officials telling she needed to arrange her travel back to United States. She said when the first call came through she fell to the floor in shock.
Katie said: “When the phone call came I take a few seconds to realise it was something from the Border Force.
“I just thought they were checking on the phone because of social distancing.
“One of the first questions they asked was ‘Have you arranged your flight for leaving?’ The woman on the phone explained to me she had called the airlines and there was a flight available from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and on to Houston.
“She was very brash and I just hit the floor.
“We were shell-shocked and this came out of the blue.”
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Katie said she only found she would be allowed to remain in the UK until the end of May when officials called her on Tuesday night.
She said her home is in the Granite City and that she would feel “displaced” if she was forced to return to the US.
Katie said: “The States may be my place of birth, and where I spent the first 52 years of my life, but my home is here in Aberdeen.”
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn is helping Katie with her fight and slammed the Home Office officials for considering deportation during the Covid-19 crisis.
He said: “At best the decision to try and deport Kate this week was unnecessary and at worst downright dangerous – you seriously have to question why the Home Office tried to push this through during the middle of a global pandemic.
“I’ve since been in contact with the Home Office to press for the threat of deportation to be lifted whilst a full review of her case is undertaken.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We have been clear that individuals lawfully in the UK will not be penalised for circumstances beyond their control, which is why we are extending their leave until 31 May 2020.”