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'We feel unwelcome': Italian man recovering from COVID-19 faces deportation from UK

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By Luke Hanrahan
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Dante Bulanti with his partner Nicoletta Frosi.
Dante Bulanti with his partner Nicoletta Frosi.   -   Copyright  Euronews

An Italian man who was struck down with a COVID-19-related illness leaving him bedridden and unable to move his hands might have seen his health improve.

But due to Brexit and coronavirus restrictions, Dante Bulanti found himself in another difficult situation, as the UK authorities might soon deport him.

Bulanti, who made London his home together with his long-term partner Nicoletta Frosi, was rejected for settled status because he was forced to spend the COVID-19 lockdowns in Italy.

This meant that he could not return to London until after the application deadline due to force majeure.

He also ended up receiving specialist treatment for his condition in the UK -- another issue that might cause complications if he was to seek medical help elsewhere.

And although Bulanti's health got better, it continues to prevent him from being able to work, causing financial uncertainties for him and his partner.

“Every morning I wake up, I cannot close my hands because of the pain. After that I’m taking the treatment, after three or four hours -- I can close my hands,” Bulanti told Euronews.

Despite all of that, the UK Home Office has refused Bulanti’s application for settlement status, which would have allowed him to stay in the country.

'We are just a number'

The situation has left Frosi desperately worried, as the Home Office will soon deport Bulanti to Italy.

“Mentally, he’s very low. I went away for a week with my daughters, and I found him in a terrible condition because he’s going really negative in his mind, so he won’t cope,” Frosi said.

Despite Brexit, around 239,000 more people moved to the UK than left the country in the 12 months between June 2021 and now.

Frosi, who has been working in the UK education system for 20 years, said that she knew other Europeans who now have uncertain futures because of Brexit.

“After this happened to Dante, [I started] to meet people. And there are so many stories of people they just send away, and that’s it. So we are just a number. England is nothing that I remember it used to be,” she said.

In a statement, the Home Office said that “we know that there will be valid reasons why a small proportion of people didn’t apply by the deadline, which is why we are continuing to support them“.

But the situation has left Frosi feeling betrayed instead, she told Euronews. ”I’ve been in London since I was very young. And I was feeling part of that."

”London is my home, and this makes me feel that we are not welcome at all,” Frosi concluded.