Hull man kicked out of Bermuda, 20 years after emigrating
A HULL man living the dream on a paradise island has been sent back to England, 20 years after he emigrated.
Stephen Tomlinson and his wife Kirsty were given less than a month to leave Bermuda, despite their two children being born on the island.
Now back living with family in East Yorkshire, the couple are calling on the British Government to fight their case.
Stephen, 45, said: “My daughter is crying herself to sleep at night and the kids ask ‘When are we going home, Daddy?’
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“I don’t understand how they could do this to us after we’d been there so long.
“We had to sell all our belongings and get out, despite having worked hard and paid our way.”
Stephen, a paint sprayer, had friends fight for their right to stay but the Bermudan Government refused to be swayed.
He fears more ex-pats could be ordered to leave Bermuda as the Government tightens up immigration.
He said: “There are still people from Hull out there and more Britons will be sent home. You build a life up only to get kicked out.”
Stephen was 24 when he moved to the group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean from Garden Village in east Hull in 1991.
He met Kirsty, of Goole, who was also on a work permit and the two later married, having children Holly, 12 and Joseph, 6.
The couple were living the dream in a cottage while Stephen built up a solid reputation as a paint sprayer.
Kirsty, a beauty therapist, had celebrity clients including Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Kirsty, 41, said: “Stephen’s heart was in Bermuda and it is a lovely country.
“My roots are in England and I class it as my home but I’ve learnt so much on the island.
“I am sad about a lot of things but it was always hanging over us that we might be sent home.”
The couple’s dream life came crashing down when Stephen’s place of work burnt to the ground last year.
“We were all made redundant but the local paper ran a story saying people were prepared to help us find work,” Stephen said.
“Luckily, I still had job offer and I decided to take work at a Mercedes dealership.
“I applied for my annual work permit and it was declined.
“We didn’t know what to do and everyone said it would be sorted but it wasn’t.”
Stephen was sent a letter from the Department of Immigration, which advised him to settle his affairs, giving him a deadline of less than a month to leave the island.
The letter stated: “The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, after having reviewed the request, has refused the application. You are now being advised to settle your affairs, together with your family and leave Bermuda.”
While the Bermudan Government has granted permanent residency to Britons living on the island since 1989, the couple missed the cut-off point by just two years. After receiving the letter, the family faced a frantic few weeks to meet the deadline.
Stephen said: “My wife started selling everything we had, including the beds and furniture. We managed to bring back 13 suitcases and my bicycle but left a lot behind.”
The Foreign Office says it is unable to stop the island’s Government forcing Britons to give up their jobs and sending them back to the UK.
The Tomlinson family could have bought citizenship for $120,000 but they did not hold important enough jobs.
Stephen said: “If I was a butcher, a policeman or had a lot of money in the bank, I could have stayed.
“The money was good out there and had I have known that we would be told to leave so suddenly, I would have started saving years ago.”
The family are being backed by MP Andrew Percy, who is vowing to take their case to ministers.
However, they know it is very unlikely they will be able to return.
Mr Percy said: “Although Bermuda is a British colony, it has control over its own immigration system.
“It’s completely unjust that the Tomlinson family should be cheated in this way when they have lived there for so long.
“I will do everything I can to help them.”