A FORMER Syrian refugee in Scotland has won her battle to be reunited with her father after succeeding in an appeal against the Home Office’s refusal under family union rules.

Violet Hejazi, who has been in Scotland for a decade, last year pleaded with the department to allow her seriously ill father to be reunited with her and Simone, her sister, in Scotland before it is too late.

Continuing civil war forced the family to flee their home in northern Syria in 2013 after their village was ravaged by terrorist militia. She lost contact with her father, Ali, and stepmother as she became settled in Scotland. Her father is in his seventies and has suffered a series of strokes.

Hejazi’s own initial five-year visa expired in 2018 and she has indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which means she is no longer a refugee and could not apply to bring her parents here through the family reunion route.

However, she has a Legal Services HND from Glasgow College and is studying law at Glasgow University and it was through her studies that she found a ruling from the president of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) which said that minors could start family reunion proceedings.

That inspired her to pursue her own case, and she had been expecting a refusal in March last year. Now, 16 months on, the First-Tier Tribunal has found in her favour and she can bring her parents to Scotland.

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Hejazi told the Sunday National it had been a long battle, but she was relieved that it was over.

“I didn’t know what to say. I received the news over the phone and it was unreal. It actually took me a few days to digest the fact that we had won and there’s nothing more we need to prepare, in terms of legal arguments.

“I’m actually quite proud of myself because if I had not paid attention to the details, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

“It could take up to three weeks for my father’s visa to be implemented and from that day we have 30 days to travel. So it will be maybe two or three months before they’re in Scotland.”

Hejazi said there are no direct flights from Kurdistan, Iraq, where her parents have been living, and there are more hurdles to jump regarding passports, visas and her father’s ill health, but she has managed to give him the news.

“I’m just a little bit worried about the timescale and how fast we can get things done,” she said.

“On the day [of the ruling] I shared the news. We got that on the 14th of June and the 15th was my 10th anniversary in Scotland, so it was a very special week.

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“I phoned him and he was very overwhelmed. I shared the news with my stepmother and she was happy but told me my father’s been very unwell for two days. He’s having fever attacks, which has been happening for the past year and there’s no doctor who can find out why.”

Hejazi did manage to speak to her father a few days later, and once he was convinced that he hadn’t been dreaming in the earlier call, he was delighted.

She added: “He can barely move and can only speak for five minutes and then he’s tired. But that day, they actually went to a nearby park to go out for some fresh air and have a wee celebration. They were over the moon.”

Hejazi’s own lawyer, Usman Aslam, a senior associate at Mukhtar & Co Solicitors in Glasgow,said the family reunion process is there for refugees who have fled their home countries and been separated from their families, and this ruling extends its reach.

He said: “While the rules generally only allow spouses and children, we all know that family also means parents – it also means siblings, grandparents, or anyone that you consider family.

“Violet and her parents have had to suffer around two years unnecessarily, going through a bureaucratic nightmare, at a time when the Tory government are trying to sell to the public that family reunion is a safe route.

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“Why is it that the applications are usually refused, then having to cost the taxpayers a fortune for court appeals? What is more concerning is that the Home Office had more than one opportunity to review matters, instead, we were advised that the case was without merit.

“The public – and more importantly the court – has clearly taken the opposite view to the Home Office.”

He said the system was in need of a complete overhaul, and urged the Home Office to engage with lawyers.

“Violet is a symbol of what refugees can achieve,” he said.

“She fled war, then learned the language when she came to Scotland, won several awards at college, and is now en route to becoming a solicitor.

“All she asked was to see her parents again. We are delighted with the result and welcome the judge’s decision and we will continue the fight for those facing oppressive immigration rules.