John's Story

John feels at home in Scotland now

John, 36, arrived in the UK in 2004 with his wife. His wife was a member of an ethnic minority in her home country, and she was persecuted by her government. John’s home country, across the border, could not protect her either. The couple fled to Britain not knowing whether they would find sanctuary there – leaving their daughter, then 11, in the care of her grandmother.

It took them until 2007 to be recognised as refugees under the asylum system, and a further two years to secure a job and the ability to apply for family reunion. In October 2009, after applying for a visa under family reunion regulations, the couple were finally able to bring their daughter over to live with them.

It was hard for my daughter to see us leave. She was just 11 years old

“When we escaped we didn’t know what would happen, it would have been a big risk to bring our daughter with us. It was hard for my daughter to see us leave. She was just 11 and I don’t know if she completely understood what was happening.

We were seeking asylum in this country and we eventually got our status in 2007, and of course until that time we had not been allowed to work. To bring our daughter over we needed to have a job, so as soon as we got status the next thing was to try and find a job, which was difficult – there were the language barriers, qualifications…

Red tape and paperwork

Eventually we managed to do this and we got a job in 2009. After having worked for three months we went to see a lawyer who was quite helpful and he did the forms and paperwork for us. It took about four months. Eventually, our daughter got a visa in 2009. It was a time consuming – and very bad for the nerves!

When I watch news of my home it feels like a foreign country. It's violent

My mum and daughter came together. My mum got a visa, came for two months and went back again. In all, it was five years that we hadn’t seen our daughter. Of course it was very emotional when she arrived. I didn’t recognise her at first, she was so grown-up.

News from home

At first I missed my homeland but after five or six years I think I’m OK. Now I watch the news from over there and things are quite violent – I feel like it’s a foreign country for me, especially since my daughter is here now.

The problem now for me is my mum is still in my home country, and there’s no UK embassy there so we need to apply through the nearest embassy – in the neighbouring country. So that takes a long time, is complicated and quite expensive. We’re always worried about her – my daughter misses her as well.”