The 30-year-old, who arrived in the UK in 2007 on an ancestry visa from New Zealand, has spent the past five years working and living in London, building a life and making friends.

She has worked in architecture and sport and event management sectors while becoming a huge part of the South Ealing, London community. 

However, when it came to extending her stay in the UK, through various UKBA advisers, Quin was given wrong information, saw her emails ignored, and was told to complete incorrect forms.

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Quin was instructed to apply for naturalisation in the UK but was told by the UKBA she would only be able to do this after her visa had expired in September 2012.

After filling out the forms, five months later Quin was informed by the UK Border Agency that she was actually too late to apply, her ancestry visa had expired, she could not remain in the country – she had two months to leave.

“I began to cry with despair,” Quin explains.

“I asked the UKBA adviser if there was anything I could do. She said I could go back to New Zealand and apply again for a five-year ancestry visa.

“This made no sense to me as my life was now in the UK and I had completed my five-year requirement making me eligible to stay.

“I stated that as I had been given such conflicting advice over the last few months was there anyone else I could speak to clarify my situation.

“I was told that they would simply state the same thing she had and that if I wanted I could get a solicitor, but that I would inevitably be wasting my money.

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“I was shocked that this lady seemed so blasé regarding a situation that was my life!

“She simply ended our conversation with ‘thank you and have a good day’.

”With just three weeks to go, Quin was due to fly to Sydney, having to say goodbye to her friends and leaving her boyfriend, Paul (pictured at the top with Quin) behind – as well as their plans to run the London Marathon in April together for charity, so far raising money for the PSP association.

As part of the TNT Magazine campaign, petitioning for the UKBA to improve its services, Quin’s case was put to the Home Office.

The response came just 24 hours later in the form of an apology made over the phone to Quin, who was told she could stay in the UK.She was called every day for more than a week by an adviser, updating Quin of her visa situation.

Then, on March 11, she was told her Indefinite Leave To Remain visa had been approved.

“I can’t believe it. Thank god I didn’t book my flights!” Quin said.

“I’m really pleased TNT got involved – this has been a horrific five months, incredibly stressful, and dealing with the UKBA has been farcical.

“It seems to depend on what adviser you speak to as to what you’re told, which is unacceptable where people’s lives are concerned.

“I was in the UK originally in respect of my Nan’s background and heritage and have since found myself at home and a part of a fantastic community in South Ealing while travelling, fundraising and continuing my career developments.”

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TNT Multimedia’s group editor Carol Driver with Melanie Quin at the TNT Travel Show 

Carol Driver, group editor at TNT Multimedia, said: “We’ve received so many horror stories about readers getting lost in the shambolic UKBA system, and were happy that we could help Melanie – although, it shouldn’t be able to get to that stage.

“That’s why it’s imperative people sign our campaign, so we can force the UKBA to clean up its act and stop holding people’s passports to ransom.”

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