Deportation threat by the Home Office for Inverness soldier – the plight of Junior Bulumakau had received support from former soldier Johnny Mercer MP and controversial TV personality Piers Morgan
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A serving Inverness soldier feared he would be deported back to his native Fiji when he got a letter from the Home Office.
Junior Bulumakau, who lives in Inshes, was shocked by the letter last Friday which stated his exemption from immigration control had ended in August last year.
He was given just 28 days to make arrangements – either to leave the UK or apply to remain here.
Mr Bulumakau, who is also a Highland rugby player, said it cost £2389 for a single application which means that for a family of four to stay in the UK would cost almost £10,000.
He posted on Twitter to highlight his plight and received support from some high-profile sources.
In his post, he said: “A nice letter to receive on a Friday afternoon. The Home Office kicking me out of the country in the next few weeks without any prior warning.
“I’ve only lived here since I was eight, and half way through my 22 years in the Army. I wouldn’t mind a holiday to Fiji anyway!”
In another post, he described the move as a great “thank you” for his service for his country.
He thanked everyone for their support and has since heard that the letter was sent out in error.
The post read: “Thanks for the support I received yesterday. Fortunately, I am still serving in the British Army and this letter won’t be actioned.
“However, I want to highlight the current visa fees for indefinite leave to remain, faced by Commonwealth soldiers and their families.”
MP Johnny Mercer, himself a former serviceman, tweeted his support, adding: “Servicemen and women from foreign and Commonwealth nations have to pay to live in the UK afterwards. This is totally wrong; it’s not who we are.”
TV personality Piers Morgan tweeted his support, adding: “Absolutely outrageous – good enough to serve this country but not good enough to live here? Fix this please Priti Patel [Home Secretary] urgently.”
Inverness MP Drew Hendry said: “The Home Office’s hostile environment policy continues to wreak havoc on people’s lives and I am sorry to read that Mr Bulumakau had to deal with this upsetting letter – it is unacceptable and I will do all I can to help him.
“Unfortunately, there are many serving soldiers and veterans in our communities having to grapple with the inflexible and hostile Home Office.
“Some even have to face the prospect of not having their families come stay with them as they serve, and beyond, because of eye-watering costs for immigration applications.
“We owe each and every member of our armed forces a debt of gratitude, including foreign and Commonwealth personnel who put their lives on the line to protect our families.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are hugely grateful to the contribution of all our armed forces and are humbled when non-UK nationals choose to serve.
“The letter to Mr Bulumakau was issued in error and we apologise for any distress caused.”