The Home Office has been accused of being “cruel and insensitive” after a woman was threatened with deportation despite being in a coma in hospital.
Bhavani Esapathi, 31, who was in a vegetative state for a week and a half after undergoing a major operation, received a letter stating that her application for leave to remain had been refused and that she was liable to be forcibly removed.
The Indian national’s fiance, Martin Mangler, 33, appealed against the decision while she was still unconscious, providing medical letters from her doctors stating that her life would be at risk if she were to travel.
But the Home Office said that while the medical treatment she was receiving was “unlikely” to be available to the same standard in India, this did not entitle her to remain in the UK – and that she could receive “palliative care” in her home country if the appropriate treatment wasn’t available there.
Lawyers and politicians said the case demonstrated how UK immigration rules were permitting the government to “send people to their death abroad” as part of the hostile environment.
Ms Esapathi, who came to the UK on a study visa in 2010 and proceeded to work in the arts industry before she fell ill with Crohn’s disease, said she would be “risking her life” if she had to leave the country.
The east London resident had initially been living in Britain on student and work visas, but when she fell ill she reapplied under human rights medical grounds. Her application was refused in September 2018 while she was unconscious in hospital, and her appeal was refused two months later.
The Indian national had to be admitted to hospital again last month due to complications with her bowel. She currently relies on a drip and has to have a bag attached to her stomach, and is waiting to undergo further surgery in the summer.