A high-achieving student from Albania, who was threatened with deportation after being abandoned by traffickers near Bristol four years ago, has won his appeal to stay in the UK.
More than 91,000 people signed a petition calling on the Home Office to grant St Mary Redcliffe Sixth Form student Stiven Bregu, 18, indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
In June 2019, days before he was due to take his A Level exams, Stiven received a letter from his solicitor saying that his application for indefinite leave to remain had been refused.
But, following an appeal hearing on 15 July, Stiven has now been informed that he does in fact have the right to remain in the UK.
“I was very happy and excited [and also] very relieved. A mixture of emotions,” Stiven told RightsInfo, on receiving the news. “It was something I had been waiting for for a very long time, so [I am] quite pleased with how it went!”
Ahead of his appeal hearing, Stiven spoke of how his mum sent him to the UK against his wishes in 2015, aged 13, to escape a “violent and abusive” family situation.
Despite having no money, no possessions and no English, he somehow managed to find his way to a police station.
Over the past four years, he has grown up in the care of his foster family, supported by Bath and North East Somerset Council.
“I didn’t expect the answer I got”
Stiven Bregu. Image Credit: Rob Shaw.
“It was shocking. I didn’t expect the answer I got,” Stiven told RightsInfo last month, on his initial Home Office rejection. “I have been here for four years now. I have got all my friends here.”
Rob Shaw, Stiven’s head of year at St Mary Redcliffe Sixth Form, has supported the 18-year-old in his bid to stay in the UK.
“The Home Office now have two weeks to appeal the decision, but assuming that they don’t, Stiven will be able to start his apprenticeship,” he wrote in a post on the e-petition. “Thank you for signing this petition and supporting Stiven. He has really appreciated it.”
Excelling at school, Stiven has been offered an apprenticeship from a wealth management firm in Bristol which he had been hoping to accept.
“A Stark Reminder Of The Madness Of Our Asylum System”
Image credit: Noah Silliman / Unsplash.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, writing in his weekly blog, said that the Stiven’s story was a “powerful example of how a city can take in a vulnerable young person and nurture them”.
“Stiven’s ordeal has also provided a stark reminder of the madness of our asylum system,” he added.
“The timing of the Home Office decision to deport Stiven, coming just as he was preparing for his A Levels, is emblematic of the complete lack of humanity in the way immigration decisions are made.
“The decision itself, claiming that it was in the ‘public interest’ to send Stiven out of the country after years of investment in his education and care, is questionable on every possible level.
“The only saving grace is that the appeal judge was able to finally see sense and recognise Stiven for the asset that he is.”
Want to learn more on this topic?
- Read ‘Trafficked Children Are Victims, Not Criminals’ – one of our top 50 human rights stories.
- View our video: ‘What’s the difference between migrants, asylum seekers and refugees?’
- Check out our coverage of a huge increase in UK child trafficking cases.