She has lived in Britain for almost half a century, so she had quite a shock when she was told she could face deportation.
The Daily Mail of UK reported that grandmother Winnie Birkenhead, 53, of Burnley, Lancashire, claimed her employer received a letter stating she was not allowed to work in the UK.
The mental health worker has won the right to stay after opening her photo albums to Home Office officials to prove she moved from Malaysia 48 years ago.
Mother-of-two Ms Birkenhead came to Britain from South East Asia as a five-year-old girl in 1968 after her mother married a member of the British Army.
“But last October, after being told she could face deportation, solicitors told her to put together evidence to prove she had lived here for most of her life.
This dossier included photographs of her youth growing up in Britain – and Ms Birkenhead, has now been granted indefinite leave to remain.
It comes after the grandmother, who has never returned to Malaysia since moving to Britain, spent a year fearing she would be torn away from her family.
Grandmother-of-two Ms Birkenhead said: ‘I got the letter and I rang up the Home Office and a woman said they could they could whisk me off at any time.
“For the last year, every time someone knocked on the door I thought that someone was going to take me away.
“I was scared that I would be moved to a country that I didn’t even know – they don’t realise how it affects your whole life.”
Ms Birkenhead, who had always thought she became a British citizen when her mother did in the late 1960s, said she has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after spending a year unable to work.
She also claims that she was banned from doing volunteer work she secured in a bid to stay busy during her period of limbo.
Ms Birkenhead, who has a National Insurance number, driving licence and underwent a Criminal Records Bureau check when she began working with vulnerable adults nine years ago, said she does not understand why the Home Office suddenly questioned her right to live in the country.
The support worker said: “I’m so grateful to be back at work but I just feel let down by the whole system. It really upset me.
“I found volunteer work and they wouldn’t even allow me to do that. I’ve lost £18,000 in wages, I had to freeze the mortgage but now they want double payments.
“They don’t give a monkey’s if I’ve got a house to pay for – I’m going to be in bad credit for years now.
“I have put so much into this country and I’ve always worked since I was 16. I’ve never had a British passport, it’s just never been something I’ve needed.
“I was happy going up to Scotland for my holidays. My mum and stepdad came over here, they fell in love and that was that.
“I was brought here through no choice of my own but this is where I’ve grown up and it’s all I know. Why would they question me being here now, why not when I was 16?”
Julie Cooper, the Labour MP for Burnley who helped fight Ms Birkenhead’s case, said: “It’s fantastic news.
“I know we have to be strict on immigration but here’s a woman who is an asset to this country and common sense dictates that she should be here.
“Of course we have to be firm on immigration, but we have to have an efficient system in dealing with it because during this period she hasn’t been able to work.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The onus is on the individual to take the necessary action to regularise their own immigration status.
“Ms Birkenhead applied for indefinite leave to remain in May 2016 which was granted on September 15, 2016,” reported The Daily Mail of UK.