THE visa debacle keeping Heyam Srour’s family apart is further proof of Home Office incompetence, according to the director of a UK-wide organisation.

Migrant Voice was set up to empower those settling in the UK and counter the hostile narratives about immigration.

With hubs in Glasgow, the West Midlands and London, the organisation works to counter xenophobia, strengthen communities, influence policy and promote “justice”.

Its director Nazek Ramadan says the delay and error faced by Heyam’s family is all too common – and should not happen at all.

She said: “Being a migrant in the UK is expensive enough, even if the Home Office gets all its decisions right. From October, renewing a standard leave to remain visa for two-and-a-half years will cost a staggering £2600 – and that’s per person.

“But in countless cases the Home Office wrongly rejects applications, loses documents, gets names wrong or sends important letters to the wrong address.

“All too often, the costs of those mistakes fall back on the person themselves. And these costs aren’t just financial – the stress and uncertainty can have severe and lasting impacts on individuals and families.”

Her comments come as commercial insurance broker Colin Swinney and civil partner Raul Marchena Magadan tell how errors by officials cost them a four-figure sum and prevented Marchena Magadan from becoming a British citizen.

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The Cuban national, who leads the Spanish language programme at Reading University, came to the UK to study 16 years ago.

He applied for British citizenship in 2018 but his application was wrongly refused after officials erroneously claimed that he had broken immigration rules by working without the right to do so while renewing his right to remain between 2006-09.

But the department’s own emails to his solicitor confirm that he was allowed to work – and the only reason for the long delay in renewing his leave to remain was that the Home Office misplaced his file.

The refusal left the pair, who live near Manchester, £1330 out of pocket and Raul without citizen status.

Colin described their treatment as “insulting”. “At one point they said Raul had been working as a nurse,” he said. “He’s never worked as a nurse, they must have mixed him up with someone else. How can this be so badly organised?

“He has always been entitled to work. This is just down to somebody who hasn’t looked at the right paperwork and ticked a box and said ‘no’.

“If we’d taken it to a tribunal, he’d probably have won, but we didn’t know we could do that at the time.

“These people are invisible, you can’t get to them at all to speak to them and sort out what’s happening. It infuriates me.”

Last week Home Secretary Priti Patel said she will create a “fair, humane, compassionate and outward-looking Home Office that represents people from every corner of our diverse society” following the scathing review of her department’s handling of the Windrush scandal.

Ramadan said: “We need fundamental reform of the Home Office, but we also need competent decision-making, and free, easy ways for people to get refunds, make complaints, and have decisions reviewed. These simple changes would save everyone money, time and stress – so why does it seem so hard to do?”