Rejected X Factor hopeful Gamu Nhengu must leave the UK voluntarily, the UK Border Agency has said.

The 18-year-old singer was allowed to stay in the country as a dependent while her mother, Nokuthula Ngazana, studied at university.

But the visa has now run out and the family’s application to remain in the UK has been rejected as they did not meet all the criteria set down by the Home Office.

They must now leave the UK voluntarily or face deportation to their native Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for the Home Office said the decision to axe the student from X Factor was the ‘business’ of the television show. He could not say whether the omission by judge Cheryl Cole had been decided after talks between immigration officials and the programme’s bosses.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The applications made by Ms Ngazana and her family were considered in line with the published immigration rules.

“Ms Ngazana’s application was refused as it did not meet all of the conditions for approval. Her family, who had applied as her dependants, were therefore also refused.”

So far more than 210,000 fans have signed up to a Facebook page called Gamu Should Have Got Through, protesting against the decision by Cheryl on Sunday to leave Gamu out of the final 12.

At least one of the rejected contestants will be given a lifeline at the weekend as a wild card on Saturday night’s programme.

Show bosses have denied reports that Cheryl was influenced by fears that Gamu’s visa was due to run out. A spokeswoman for the ITV1 talent show said: “Gamu’s visa being processed was not the reason that she didn’t make the final 12.”