Tayport widow facing deportation back to Ukraine after almost 10 years

Valentyna Yakovleva.
Valentyna Yakovleva.

A Ukrainian widow faces deportation after helping raise her granddaughters in Fife for almost a decade.

Valentyna Yakovleva, who has no other family, came to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Tayport more than nine years ago.

She has now been forced to appeal for help from local SNP MP Stephen Gethins in a last-ditch attempt to avoid being arrested and removed from the country after orders from the Home Office.

If sent back to Ukraine, the 69-year-old has no way of supporting herself or get access to crucial medication.

Her son-in-law Dr Andrij Sukhodub said Valentyna, who suffers from various health issues, would probably not survive being thrown out of the country.

He said: “The only people who survive in Ukraine are those who are young and fit.

“It is no place to be sending her back to. She has no family there and her pension was frozen around seven years ago with no prospect of her ever having any access to it.

“Valentyna is our family, she has brought up our children and been part of this community for almost a decade.

“Sending her back will be an absolute breach of her human rights and devastating for all of us.”

Valentyna was granted several visitor visas between 2001 and 2011 but her application for Indefinite Leave to Remain on compassionate grounds was rejected in late 2011.

She tried again in 2014 under 10-Year Family and Private Life conditions but was again refused with no right of appeal.

In September 2015 she was served with a notice saying she was a person liable for removal as an “overstayer” and despite another application for Leave to Remain under the European Convention on Human Rights, she was again refused and served with another notice.

The family turned to solicitors for help but despite being led to believe Valentyna’s case may be eligible for a judicial review, in 2018 they were dealt a further blow when a bid to appeal to the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber was thrown out.

The family, who say she only overstayed her visa because of incorrect legal advice, have now appealed to UK Visa and Immigration Service for clarity after the Home Office wrote to her to say the frequency of her reporting to them had been relaxed from a 12 weekly basis to six monthly, yet also told her she has no basis to stay in the UK and should make arrangements to leave.

Mr Gethins has taken up Ms Yakovleva’s case and said he hopes “common sense” will prevail, having had experience of working in Ukraine.

“There is very little there; there is no social network or health care provision for elderly people,” he said.

“I am extremely concerned that the Home Office is putting in so much effort to have her removed.

“It was bad enough that she was taken to Dungavel in 2017 but to live in fear they will come and get her at any hour of the day or night is horrendous.”

A Home Office spokesperson said Ms Yakovleva’s application “did not meet requirements of immigration rules”.

They added: “This decision has been backed up by an independent immigration judge.

“If Mrs Yakovleva has further information which she would like to be considered, it remains open to her to submit a new application.”