Two-year Home Office British citizenship delay is ‘like a knife hanging over my head’ says university manager

A university manager has said that she is suffering from “severe stress” after being forced to wait two years on her British citizenship application - despite the Home Office promising decisions are made within six months.

Priya Kapade, 48, who is an Indian national, applied for British citizenship in June 2022. She has lived in the UK all her adult life after coming to do a masters in international management and now works at Leeds University.

She was granted the right to stay in the UK indefinitely in 2008 but now hopes to confirm her status by becoming British. Despite chasing the Home Office directly, and indirectly through her MP, 15 times she has yet to receive a decision on her application.

She told The Independent that she wants to become a British citizen so that she can support her 73-year-old mother in India if she needs care in old age. Under her current visa she cannot be out of the UK for two years at time.

Priya Kapade, pictured, said stress over her British citizenship application is impacting her life in every single way (Priya Kapade)
Priya Kapade, pictured, said stress over her British citizenship application is impacting her life in every single way (Priya Kapade)

Her father died last year at the age of 82 and she wants to be able to look after her mother if she becomes ill in the future. Ms Kapade explained: “Having British nationality just gives you that security, the feeling of being settled and the feeling that you won’t be stopped at the airport and not allowed to come home. This is my home and has been for the last 17 years. I don’t know anywhere else.”

Speaking about the stress of the extended wait, she said: “This is impacting my life in every single way, my health has deteriorated over the last two years and I am trying to best to juggle work, studies, finances and day to day living but I am finding it hard to cope.

“It’s like a knife hanging over my head. I feel stuck in this government’s hostile environment towards immigrants and feel this general election becoming an ‘immigration election’ will only create further hostility and divisions.”

With the help of her solicitors, Ms Kapade has chased the Home Office for a decision on her citizenship application 15 times so far but has received the same reply that her application is “under consideration”.

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Ms Kapade has submitted a complaint to the Home Office complaints review team over the excessive delay, filed a pre-action protocol letter, and submitted a subject access request but has had no success.

She can only escalate the issue to the Independent Examiner of Complaints once the Home Office complaints review team have responded - something she is also still chasing.

“To be waiting for two years is just beyond comprehension,” she said. “I don’t know how they expect people to continue with their lives. I can’t concentrate on work, I can’t sleep. Am I going to have to wait another three, four years? It’s a straightforward application. There’s no issues and it should have been decided within the standard processing time of six months.”

The Home Office does not publish data on the number of people waiting for a British citizenship application to be processed, or the length of time that people have had to wait.

The number of applications received has been steadily rising over the past few years; going from 170,692 applications in 2020 to 230,918 in 2023.

The number of people granted citizenship has also been rising, with a 19 per cent increase in the year 2023-24 from 181,480 to 215,706.

Refusals have soared in the past year by 68 per cent; from 3,520 in March 2023 to 5,906 in March this year.

The Home Office has been approached for comment.