UK blocking woman's Syrian husband from joining her

By staff writers
September 3, 2013

The now highly politicised immigration system in the UK and remorseless attempts by the UKBA to deny people entry or to deport them on any possible grounds produce daily injustices.

The latest example of many is highlighted by Christine Gilmore, a woman from Leeds whose Syrian husband, Ziad Arabi-Katbi, is desperate to join her in the UK but who is being denied by new family migration regulations.

These rules, as reported on Channel 4 News yesterday (3 September 2013), are keeping the apart and putting his life at risk.

The obstacles, even to a highly educated PhD student like Ms Gilmore, remain almost overwhelming.

The couple met in Damascus in 2010. The plan was to marry in Scotland then settle in the Syrian capital. Then came the revolution. Lawyers advised that a passage to the UK would be easier if they were married. So they wed in Beirut in December 2012 and applied for settlement.

They spent months gathering documentation. Mr Arabi-Katbi's lawyer was killed in a car bomb explosion. Papers went astray. Courts in Damascus were often closed. The first application was rejected.

"I felt they were splitting hairs. We provided evidence that he had passed the English language test set at the British Council with distinction... But they wouldn't accept the evidence," explains Ms Gilmore.

In fact, despite incontrovertible confirmation that Mr Arabi-Katbi had taken and passed the exam with distinction, the authorities rejected it because he had not provided a certificate of application to take it.

Ms Gilmore continued: "I provided evidence I met the financial requirements, with savings running into tens of thousands of pounds and evidence of my student income, but they said my printed and stamped bank statements didn't constitute sufficient evidence.

"I think the British government owes a duty of care to the families of British citizens caught up in war zones. Many were evacuated a year and a half ago now - why are they doing nothing for my husband?"

"I talk to [Ziad] every day - in fact, I get extremely nervous if I haven't actually spoken to him in any more than an hour and a half. I worry every single second of every single day that something dreadful might happen to my husband.

"He narrowly avoided being killed last week when he was shot by a sniper when he was off to visit his mother. He's been detained in the past. There was shelling in his neighbourhood which killed his next-door neighbour."

UKBA stats show that just two settlement visa have been issued to Syrians in the past two years, Channel 4 News reports.

* More on Syria from Ekklesia:

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