Marie-Therese Agathe

I was born in Mauritius. My parents are from Rodrigues Island near Mauritius. My father left us when I was born. I have never set eyes on him. I do not know whether he is dead or alive. I do not know his whereabouts.

My mother died a long time ago. I never lived with her because she had mental health problems and was a resident in a psychiatric hospital. I lived with my maternal grandmother in Mauritius until I married my ex-husband, who is a British citizen. My grandmother arranged the marriage. She decided I should marry young because I had no other family members and I would have nowhere to live when she died. I was 19 when my grandmother died.

My ex-husband was 25 when we got married. I was 16 at the time. Our first daughter was born before I turned 18. We were married for 23 years and have four children together. Our children, Claudia, Christilla, Angelique and Lia, are British citizens through their father. They are all in the UK, married and have children of their own.

Our marriage was hell. I suffered domestic violence at the hands of my ex-husband throughout our marriage. I was beaten in front of our children. He was a very violent person. Most of his life was spent in prison. I endured 23 years of marriage to him because of my children and also because I had no family and nowhere to go in Mauritius, which he knew. I was also beaten by his family. I never left my children; we were always together. They saw all that happened to me, but there was nothing they could do to help. We all suffered and endured together: they were verbally abused by their father. I wanted to leave him, but I had no place or person to go to. I suffered injuries to my arms, ankles, elbows and even to my head as a result of his abuse. To this day, I suffer from the emotional and physical wounds inflicted on me by my ex-husband; I still have the scars.

When my ex-husband went to prison, I took the opportunity to divorce him. Following our divorce, he married another woman. My children all moved to the UK while he was in prison. I continued to live in our house after my children moved away. When my ex-husband was released from prison, he and his wife returned to the house and kicked me out the same day. My children spoke to the neighbours (a couple) and pleaded with them to let me stay with them for a few months until they were able to bring me to the UK to join them.

I entered the UK on 16 October 2007, and I have remained in the UK since. I lived with my children from October 2007 to July 2009. I have been living with my partner since July 2009, and we plan to get married in the UK. I am in constant contact with my daughters, their husbands and their children. I see my grandchildren almost daily because three of my children live close to me. Their husbands and children are British citizens. My family members are all in the UK. I have no family in Mauritius.

In April 2008, I applied for indefinite leave to remain as the dependant of my daughters. My application was refused and my appeal against the decision was dismissed by the court. The court later accepted that there was a legal mistake in their decision, and I was eventually granted permission to appeal. All my efforts to speak to my solicitor for updates on my case proved futile. My appeal was heard again; however, my solicitor was absent from court that day, which upset even the judge. Since then, I have not heard from my solicitor. I have phoned him, sent text messages, sent letters to update him on my circumstances regarding my health and my relationship with my partner, but I have heard nothing from him. He has let me down.

The Home Office stated in its letter of refusal that my length of residency in the UK was not a factor that in itself would justify allowing me to remain in the UK. My original application was made in August 2009 but the Home Office did not make a decision until more than four years later. I could not have left the UK whilst my application was pending. During this period my relationship with my partner grew stronger. We have been living together since July 2009 and continue to do so. My partner is a British citizen. We decided to get married, and we have gone to the registry office in Manchester to make inquiries about getting married in the UK. Because of my immigration situation we cannot do so. I requested the return of my passport, which was with Home Office, but they denied having any documents relating to my passport.

My partner has a child from a previous relationship. She is living with us and is fully dependent on her father.

I am currently receiving treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in all of my joints. I was diagnosed with this condition after I came to the UK. Risks associated with rheumatoid arthritis include decreased bone density and glaucoma, and I am currently awaiting the result of a bone densitometry scan. I am also taking daily medication to control this condition and receive an injection every two weeks. I have had two operations (in 2011 and 2013) and have to visit a rheumatology clinic every three months.

The rheumatoid arthritis flares up sometimes, causing my joints to swell and become so painful that I cannot wash or dress myself or carry even small items. When this happens, I depend on my partner for help and support, and sometimes I need help from my daughters too. I am beginning to have problems with my right shoulder and the pain in my arm is such that I am very limited in my daily activities.

My ordeal is not finished. I received a letter on behalf of the Home Office telling me that I have to leave the UK or make a new application, which I did in October 2014. In March 2015, my application was again refused, this time because they said that my partner is able to live with me in Mauritius. But he is a British citizen; he has his daughter and family here, he has built his life here, and we are a family now. How can I ask my partner to leave his daughter, his family and his life in the UK to go with me to Mauritius?

Given my age (52) and medical condition, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for me to get a job. I have no relatives who would care for me in Mauritius. I have nobody there who I can turn to for financial or other support. If I am separated from my partner, my daughters and other family members in the UK, I would not have the means to survive or support myself and no place to live or anyone to look after me. My family provides me with a network of financial, emotional and other support in the UK. I don’t want to die alone without them.

For me, it is a necessity to continue to live with my partner, my daughters and close family members. Doing so is not a choice, nor is it a luxury for me to live in the UK.