A MAN says he faces being left penniless after an alleged mix-up left him living in Devon as an illegal immigrant.
Victor Bekker, originally from Zimbabwe, has been living in England for five years on an ancestral visa, as his grandparents are British.
The 25 year old of Newlands, Dawlish, says he has been employed and paid his taxes while in the UK, and submitted his application for permanent residence before his visa expired.
But he claims he was ill-advised about the forms he was using to make his application, which has led to him being left out of work and potentially facing deportation.
The Border Agency is insisting Mr Bekker submitted his application late, a claim he accepts, but only because he was initially told to use out-of-date forms.
He said: "It is an absolute nightmare. As far as I can see, I have done everything that was asked of me, but the UK Border Agency is acting in a way that could lead me to ruin."
With his visa due to run out in April, Mr Bekker and his family say they contacted the Border Agency in February to ask what forms he needed to fill in to apply for residency.
He said: "The person we spoke to confirmed which forms we needed, but we were not told that these were due to be changed on April 6.
"I made my application while my visa was still current, but it was rejected in May as I had used the wrong forms."
Mr Bekker then reapplied with the correct firms and had been due to start a job with a firm called Networkers International.
However, he claims that as his new application was submitted while he was technically in the country illegally, the firm was told he no longer had the right to work in the UK.
He said: "As far as I am aware, if my original application had been accepted, I would have been allowed to work because you are not considered to be illegal while an application is being considered, as long as you applied while holding a valid visa.
"But because I was told to use the wrong forms, I now have no job and no way to support my partner. This is my home. I don't want to leave and I just want some common sense to be applied here. I guess I could also be kicked out at any time – I just don't know."
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: "Our guidance clearly states postal applications for settlement can take up to six months to process. It was Mr Bekker's responsibility to apply before his visa ran out.
"Because Mr Bekker submitted his application late, he currently does not have a valid visa for the UK and cannot be legally employed here until a positive decision on his settlement application is made."