CORONAVIRUS left one woman’s UK citizenship hanging in the balance as Reading Borough Council cancelled vital meetings risking a £1,600 bill.

Alexandrine Kántor has been forced to travel to Croydon in a last-minute panic to complete her citizenship application after RBC cancelled her meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council announced on Monday evening via Twitter that, due to the latest government advice on the Covid-19 outbreak, council buildings would close, including libraries, leisure centres, the Civic Offices and the town hall.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier that evening asked people to avoid non-essential travel and contact with others.

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Ms Kántor, a Liberal Democrats councillor at South Oxfordshire District Council who is originally from France, has been living and working in the UK for the last six years.

Reading Chronicle:

She was due to take the penultimate step towards getting British Citizenship at Reading Central Library, her nearest UKVCAS centre, on Tuesday at 2pm.

Tomorrow I'll have my last appointment for the UK citizenship application.

Biometrics and scanning documents.@CharlieBSHCat is making sure I've got all the necessary proofs, well, hopefully.

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 16, 2020

Due to the library being closed “in line with government advice regarding social distancing”, all UKVCAS appointments were cancelled in Reading, with applicants asked to re-book.

So scared now…. @ReadingCouncil 🙏🙏🙏

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 16, 2020

Ms Kántor lives in Oxford and works as a senior electrical designer, with Reading Central Library her nearest centre.

She said: “It was so stressful because if it is not done on time the whole application is invalidated and I’ll have wasted £1,600 due to no fault of mine.

“It is not really fair to announce that at 9.30pm via Twitter.”

But she added: “The council contacted me and were nice and helpful to their credit.”

Worried about running out of time on her application, with her appointment already previously delayed due to IT issues, and losing more than £1,600, she booked an appointment in Croydon at 6.30pm that day.

My appointment in Reading has now been cancelled, on my way to Croydon from Oxford now.. 😢

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 17, 2020

She had to travel to south London and wait for 2.5 hours in a queue of people at a time when the government was issuing advice for people to avoid non-essential travel and contact with others.

Reading Chronicle:

So much people at the #UKVCAS center in Croydon. 😢#UKcitizenship

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 17, 2020

No possible #SocialDistancingNow for us migrants. 😢#Corvid19uk #UKcitizenship

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 17, 2020

Smelling too many body odors for my liking.

Now in the queue for 30min and soon confined in the lobby with everyone.

Some are coughing.#SocialDistancingNow#UKcitizenship#Corvid19uk

— Alexandrine Kántor 🔶 (@Alexa_Kantor) March 17, 2020

Speaking afterwards, she said: “It was stressful, but I am relieved that it’s now all over.”

Ms Kántor has now got through five of the six hurdles to getting British citizenship.

She has:

  • Passed the GESE Grade 5 (B1) test (100%)
  • Passed the Life In The UK test
  • Found two referees
  • Filled in the online application
  • Scanned evidence of residency and employment
  • Provided biometric information

She said the Life In The UK test is “pretty insane”, with questions including: ‘What was the population of the UK in 1998?’ and ‘When was the Giant’s Causeway formed?’.

The South Oxfordshire councillor, who represents residents in Wheatley, will have spent more than £1,700 getting UK citizenship when she completes the final stage of the application process – making an oath of allegiance to the Queen at her citizenship ceremony.

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A spokesman for RBC said: “Library staff phoned everybody on the appointment list on Tuesday morning and anyone arriving for early appointments was spoken to by library staff.

“People on the appointment list would have then needed to call the main visa contact centre to re- arrange.

“Our records show this resident was contacted and we are sorry that the message did not get to them early enough in this instance.

“The decision to close council buildings, including libraries, was taken following updated Government advice on Monday evening about avoiding non-essential contact.”