"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday 6 September 2013

Shafik and Nesrin

'In our case, the issue is not just a human rights issue, but it is a life issue.'

Previously we shared Christine's story, which has been covered in the press, concerning her husband Ziad who is trapped in Syria - his spousal visa refused on a technicality.

Now we share Shafik's story. Shafik's wife Nesrin is seriously ill, in need of medication which is running out, and also trapped in Syria - a country where the English schools are closed and the basic logistics of the postal service and the electricity supply are gravely disrupted.

Please share this widely.

'I first met Nesrin on 24th December 2008 in Damascus, while visiting Syria. We spent two days together visiting tourist sites in Damascus, and spent the New Year's Ever together with some of her friends. After coming back to the UK, we kept in contact with each other through regular phone calls and Internet chat. We had the opportunity to spend more time in Syria during 2010. During that holiday, we started to discuss the opportunity of establishing a relationship leading to marriage.

'Our discussion continued over our phone calls and Internet on a daily basis after my return to the UK. In April 2012, I visited her in Syria and was pleased to be a guest at her home where I spent a period of two weeks with her and her family. During this period, we decided to live forever as a wife and husband as our relationship had developed to a real live, and then we planned to be engaged by the end of 2012.

'In December 2012, I visited Syria through Lebanon and spent the whole holiday with her and her family. On 29th December 2012, we were formally engaged.

'Since coming back to the UK, we have been trying to arrange for her to travel to the UK for our marriage and for her to remain with me in the UK as my wife. The war in Syria broke out everywhere in the country and the British embassy in Damascus was already closed. Nesrin has to apply in Beirut for her visa; I could not send her original documents as the postal service in Syria stopped, therefore I sent her scanned documents. The schools recognised by the Home Office were closed in Syria; Nesrin travelled to Beirut to take the exam in a recognised school and passed the exam. She had to travel several times on the dangerous roads to Beirut.

'She applied in February 2013; the application was refused in March. The embassy stated four reasons for refusal :

1/ You failed to provide evidence that your sponsor (me) earns the minimum wage of £18,600.

'While her application enclosed a scanned letter from my employer showing my earnings that exceeds £18,600. In addition, I provided payslips for the last six months showing that clearly, and bank statements for enough savings.

2/ You have no evidence of the required accommodation which you are going to occupy.

'While we provided a letter from the local council showing I occupy a flat since eight years and based on the UK housing legistlation, it is enough for a couple.

3/ You did not provide evidence of regular contact and I am not convinced of your relationship.

'We provided many pictures of our formal engagement ceremony as well as pictures of the times we spent together. We used to contact mainly through Skype on a daily basis. I sent them emails, Skype conversations, and Facebook chats. Other evidence was sent too.

4/ You did not provide evidence of passing an English test... they asked for a language certificate.

'She passed the English test with good marks in a school listed by the Home Office as a recognised school. Nesrin asked the school to give her a certificate. They were surprised, and they told her that they do not give a certificate unless the student spends a few months studying in the school. The school told her that the give the same document to students and the document was accepted by the embassy. They confirmed that Nesrin was the FIRST one who complained about that.

'I sent the original documents and appealed against the decision in April 2013. In May the court sent me a pending appeal stating that they sent the application back to the embassy to review.

'I was told by my solicitor that the embassy is likely to refuse and the usual time for court will be at least 6 months, with an additional 3 months for the decision. So it will take almost one year from  now…..!!!! . I was devastated when I was told and got depressed but I did not tell my fiancée  because she is ill and I was very worried about her health if she knew the bad news.

'I read in the media that the Home Office has processed only two settlement visas for Syrians over the past 3 years in the same category we are applying for… this news caused me a lot of sadness.

'I talk to my fiancée every day on Skype, chat and phone. The electricity is available for short periods, the Internet connection is very bad in Syria, and so we barely can talk. My fiancée is ill and she needs medications. In Syria, there a shortage of medication and the medical services are poor. The security position is very dangerous up there and I am worried about her.

'My fiancée is in the war zone in Syria. She is in real danger and needs urgent health care.

'I am not convinced by any reasons the Home Office gave us. I think we satisfy all the requirements. I ask for a positive decision from the embassy.

'I think I do not need to explain about her dangerous situation in Syria and my devastating situation here in the UK.

'It is a basic human right to allow reunion of the family members.

'In our case, the issue is not just a human rights issue, but it is a life issue.'

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