Welcome u-turn on Chief Exec's father's visitor visa

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Sabir Zazai, CEO Scottish Refugee Council

The Home Office has reversed its decision to refuse a visitor visa to the father of Scottish Refugee Council's Chief Executive.

Our CEO Sabir Zazai is being granted an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University for his services to civil society over the last 20 years. He had hoped that his father Mohammad Zahir, who lives in Afghanistan, would be able to attend the ceremony in June.

The Home Office initially refused the visa application, prompting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to slam the decision as "shameful and utterly inexplicable".

Today, the Home Office has announced that it has reviewed and overturned its own decision, meaning Sabir's father can now visit Glasgow and attend the ceremony.

Sabir said: "I left my family in Afghanistan twenty years ago in search of safety. This is a huge moment for me to be reunited with my dad on such a special occasion and for him to see my children for the first time. 

"I'm relieved that humanity prevailed in this decision and that someone somewhere in the Home Office understood that behind every 'case' are individual families, and the ties that bind parents and children are the same no matter what part of the world we are from. I believe so strongly that humanity needs to be built into the decision-making process throughout the asylum and immigration system. 

"I've been overwhelmed by the support and solidarity people have shown me and am very grateful for it. But immigration and asylum decisions are so important and affect people's lives so deeply that the system should not be dependent on public and media intervention."

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said:

 “We are delighted the Home Office has reversed its earlier decision and that the father of Sabir Zazai will now be able join us at the University of Glasgow to watch his son being conferred with an honorary doctorate for services to civil society. We look forward to welcoming Sabir, his father Mohamed and family to the University. Graduations are always a great family occasion, when we welcome visitors from around the world to Scotland to watch their loved ones become Glasgow graduates.”

Peter Lloyd, Chair of Scottish Refugee Council said: “I am so pleased that the Home Office has overturned this decision and delighted for Sabir and his family. I am glad that wiser counsel has prevailed.”