Hundreds of vulnerable people wait months to join relatives they depend on in the UK

Syed and Fahad Hussain live 3,800 miles from each other, but the brothers talk on the phone at least five times a day. “I try all day to keep talking to him,” said Syed, 32, a British national living in Hayes, west London. “I’m very afraid that he could take any action – even end his life or something like that.”

Fahad, 34, suffers from severe depression and anxiety. He lives alone in Karachi, Pakistan, and relies on money transfers from his brother and wife, Agnieszka Tabaczyńska, a Polish national, to survive.

Racist abuse suffered by Fahad while studying and working in Austria for five years plunged him into a spiral of depression, according to his brother. He returned to Pakistan in 2019 and – with no close family around him, their mother living with Syed in London – has since struggled to cope.

In October 2020, Fahad applied for an EEA family permit visa through Ms Tabaczyńska who, in accordance with EU regulations, before June 30, 2021, allowed extended family members of EU nationals to join them at UK. His application was initially denied, but in May this year the Home Office informed them that the decision had been overturned and the visa granted.

The brothers were delighted. Fahad started packing and Syed’s young children started to get excited about what they would do with their uncle when they arrived.

But they waited and waited for Fahad’s visa to arrive, and heard nothing. It was not until July 15 – two months later – that Fahad received an email from the Interior Ministry indicating that his document was “no longer valid for travel” because this visa route had ended on June 30th.

Fahad Hussain, 34, is alone in Pakistan with mental health problems


“It was a horrible time. Suddenly everything changed,” said Syed. “He was so happy to come and live with us – now his condition is getting worse. He is very depressed. He has no hope.

Fahad is among hundreds of people who have been barred from entering the UK by the Home Office in recent months, although he has previously said they have the right to join their relatives under a EEA family license. They all applied long before the visa route ended, but faced long delays in receiving the visa and were informed shortly after the deadline that they could no longer get it. .

I can’t explain how many nights I lost sleep because of this. I thought there was a rule of law in this country

Mubasher Begum

When contacted by The independent this week, the Home Office said those people would instead be issued with a family permit from the EU Settlement Program, which it said would allow them to come to the UK. But lawyers say the plaintiffs themselves have yet to receive any information on the matter, months after learning they could no longer come to Britain.

In another case, Ahsan Saddiqui, 45, an albino Pakistani, was over the moon when his application to join his UK-based brother Mubasher Begum, a Spanish national, was accepted in February 2021. The application had already been accepted. rejected on the grounds that the Interior Ministry did not accept that they were brothers, but on appeal, the judge ordered that he be granted the visa.

Mubasher (left) and Ahsan children in Pakistan


However, they waited for months and the visa did not arrive. In July, he finally received a letter from the Home Office apologizing for the delay, but stating that – although they were successful on appeal and the visa was issued in May – he could not not be printed so far “due to an error”. With June 30 having passed, he declared that he was no longer eligible for the visa.

“Life in Pakistan is very difficult for me. I am an albino. I feel discriminated against by my company because of my appearance. I have to dye my hair to try not to stand out, ”says Ahsan, who relies on money transfers from his brother because of the difficulties he faces in finding work in Lahore.

Ashan says he faces discrimination in Pakistan because of his Albino membership


Mubasher, 51, who moved to the UK in 2015 after living in Spain, says he is incredulous that the Home Office is preventing Ahsan from joining him in Britain despite the court ruling in their favor. “I can’t explain how many nights I lost sleep because of this,” said the taxi driver in Manchester. “I thought there was a rule of law in this country.”

Mala Savjani, lawyer for Here for Good, based at Wilsons Solicitors LLP, which represents 20 claimants, including Ashan, to judicially review their cases, said the refusal of these family members to enter the UK after agreeing to issue the permits months before was “deeply dishonest”.

“After speaking to other legal professionals in the industry, it seems likely that there are hundreds of applicants involved,” she said. “This long-term separation combined with the Home Office’s repeated removal of the goal posts has a profound psychological and emotional impact on almost all of these clients., some of whom are children.

Hassan Shafiq, 25, was told in February 2021 that his two younger siblings – aged 22 and 15 and living in Lahore, Pakistan – had been accepted for EEA Family Permit visas. But they did not receive them on time and were told in July that they could not come to the UK.

Hassan’s siblings Kainat and Talha Shafiq stranded in Pakistan despite their mother (left) moving to the UK


“They are children and there was no one to take care of them,” explains the Nottingham resident, explaining that when his mother applied for the same visa in 2019, she got a visa after two weeks and had moved to UK. “They waited a long time. It will have a long term effect on them.

Luke Piper, policy manager at the3million, said the campaign group was aware of hundreds of people who had been separated from their loved ones for many months and, since the road closed in June, had been barred from each other. travel to UK.

“We hope the Home Office will come up with a solution that will work for all those who find themselves in this dire situation, not least because it appears to violate the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement,” he said. he added.

An Iraqi living in London, who declined to be named, said his sister, who currently lives in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, was “devastated” after finding out that she and her son could not join him in the UK, although it was accepted for an EEA family license months ago.

“Her situation is really bad,” says the man, whose request the Bulgarian woman sponsored. “She lost her other son, he drowned when he was only 16, five years ago. It caused the whole family to fall apart. Her husband became an alcoholic and left her. It was terrible.

“We were so happy to try and set up the place – but suddenly everything changed. We won the case – they should be here with us now. “

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