Windrush scandal: Man who has lived in Britain for 54 years misses daughter's wedding after Home Office refuses him a passport

Harriet Agerholm
Joseph Bravo is of many Commonwealth nationals who came to the UK under a rule allowing freedom of movement between the 1940s and 1970s: SWNS

A man who has lived in the UK for 54 years was forced to miss his daughter’s wedding because the Home Office refused to give him a British passport.

Joseph Bravo’s parents travelled from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush and brought him to join them when he was seven years old in the early 1960s.

The 62-year-old electrician has paid taxes in the UK all his working life and applied for a passport in 2010, but was refused on the basis that the Home Office could not find any record of him.

When his daughter Charmaine became engaged and planned to be married in Cyprus in 2016, he applied again to the Home Office for a passport, providing them with his national insurance number and records from his doctor. Once again, he was refused, with the department failing to return the fee he paid for a passport.

He was told he would need to apply for British citizenship at a cost of at least £2,500 before he could apply for a passport, which he could not afford.

His daughter “didn’t want to have the wedding when I told her the bad news”, Mr Bravo said, adding “she was going to cancel it completely”.

He continued: “I wouldn’t let her do that – everybody had already paid. But she was heartbroken.”

On 4 April, Mr Bravo watched his daughter Charmaine, 32, walk down the aisle via FaceTime, and says he was left devastated.

Mr Bravo is of many Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK under a rule allowing freedom of movement between the 1940s and 1970s.

Despite having lived in the UK for decades, a number have begun to experience issues as a result of the Government’s “hostile environment” policies.

As many as 50,000 have been left without documentation now needed to access work, housing, healthcare and other public services.

Mr Bravo said: “I can’t see how I can spend 54 years in the country and have them tell me that I don’t exist.

“It’s like they are making out I’m an illegal immigrant because they can’t find records of me on their systems.

“The whole thing is ridiculous to me I’ve got a National Insurance number, a driving licence, I pay taxes.”

He said he was concerned about future problems created by not having a passport, particularly since Charmaine lives in Australia. “What if my daughter’s poorly in Australia and I want to go see her for the last time? I can’t,” he said.

“What if she’s has a child and I want to go and see my grandchild? I can’t.

“And I haven’t done nothing wrong, I’m not an illegal immigrant, I haven’t stolen anything from anybody.”

The Home Office said in a statement: “The Home Secretary has been clear, this is about people who have built their lives here in the UK and contributed so much to our society. We don’t want them to feel unwelcome or to be in any doubt about their right to remain here.

“The vast majority will already have documentation that proves their right to be here. For those that don’t, we have established a new dedicated team to quickly help them get the documentation they need and ensure this is resolved as soon as possible.

“We’ve also set up a webpage and have been speaking to charities, community groups and High Commissioners to ensure advice and reassurance is provided to those affected.

"The department encouraged Mr Bravo to contact them and said it had no record of him holding a UK passport.”

SWNS contributed to this report