Immigration grounds UK-based Guyanese over alleged nursing school debt

Lavern Cosbert says she is being prevented from leaving the country to return to her home and teen daughter in the United Kingdom, since local authorities claim she still owes the government for a nursing programme that she took in 1989.

Cosbert, who now resides in Wales and is a Registered Nurse in the UK, told Stabroek News that as a result of being grounded here, her 17-year-old daughter is home alone in their house and her job is in danger.

Lavern Cosbert

The upset woman said that she repaid the government in 2006 for the Nursing Assistant Programme that she did locally at the Georgetown School of Nursing.

She said she travelled back and forth several times and was never stopped until 2008, when she returned to attend her mother’s funeral.

While she was leaving, Cosbert was detained by immigration officials at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri but was later allowed to join her flight to the UK. As a result of being stopped at the airport, she later had a friend in Guyana contact the Ministry of Health to verify if it had received her payment and she was told that there were no records that she owed the government.

However, when Cosbert returned on March 16, this year for her brother’s funeral, she was told by immigration officials at the airport that she would not be allowed to leave the country unless she settles the issue with the government. “The guy at the airport said to me when he stamped me in that I should clear my name before I leave, because I’m obligated to the government,” she said.

As a result, after her brother’s funeral, Cosbert went to the Ministry of Health, where she explained her situation and an official informed that she should have her documents to prove that she paid for the contract. “I told her that my mother had the receipt but she had passed away and I don’t know where it is right now and the document that I had clipped in my passport is lost with that passport in 2005/2006 and that was reported to the police and immigration,” she recounted.

Cosbert added that she was told that since neither she nor the ministry had any supporting documentation, she would have to pay $21,000 for the programme and she agreed. However, the next day when she called the ministry, she said she was told that she needed to pay $134,000, which she refused.

A visibly distraught Cosbert told Stabroek News that she is willing to pay no more than $21,000, while adding that she should not even be paying that sum since it was already paid in 2006.

She related that she has tried every possible option, including attempts to meet with President Donald Ramotar and Head of Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon, but to no avail.

As a result, she is now moving to take legal action against the government.

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