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Man who lived as a “stateless person” in airport becomes British citizen

This past Tuesday, East African Indian Sanjay Shah became an official British citizen after 400 days spent in limbo at the Nairobi airport. Shah’s story was documented in the press frequently, and interest in his predicament continued to build after the release of the recent Tom Hanks film, “The Terminal”. Shah’s case highlighted the rather complex way in which the residents of former and current British overseas colonies and territories are afforded access to Britain in terms of immigration and citizenship. Shah renounced his Kenyan passport in order to leave Africa permanently in May 2004, but he quickly learned that Britain would not afford him access to the country. During his time in the airport in Nairobi, Shah slept in the airport’s lounge and became close to many of the staff who worked in the airport. Interestingly enough, this particular predicament has an analogous situation in Charles de Gaulle Airport, where an Iranian man (who now calls himself Sir Alfred) has resided for the past sixteen years.

The first link offered here leads to a news story from the Times of India which reports on the recent news that Sanjay Shah had in fact become a British citizen. The second link offers some additional information on Shah’s situation as reported in this past Tuesday’s online edition of the Guardian. The third link offers the rather somber story of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, as reported by the filmmaker Paul Berczeller. The fourth link offers a reflection of the nature of the citizenship test offered in the United States by Solomon Skolnick, an author who has recently written a book on the subject. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the Immigration & Nationality Directorate of the United Kingdom. Here visitors can learn about how they might be eligible to come to the United Kingdom for work or other reasons. The final link leads to a BBC News special that allows visitors to find out if they could pass a British citizenship test, albeit in an shortened form. [KMG]
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Alternate Title Indian ‘Tom Hanks’ is now British
GEM Subject
Date of Scout Publication 2005-07-15
Archived Scout Publication URL

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