ZIM MAID WINS UK VISA COURT BATTLE


A Zimbabwean maid who was denied a visitor’s visa to Northern Ireland to attend a wedding has won her case at the High Court.

Lettywin Satichi worked for the groom’s family who are Irish citizens living in Zimbabwe. She helped to raise the groom.

The Belfast Telegraph reported earlier this month that Satichi was informed that her application for a visitor's visa to enter the UK for the wedding and to remain as a tourist for 14 days had been denied.

According to Ms Satichi's legal team the grounds given for the refusal were that her circumstances in Zimbabwe were not sufficiently favourable to cause her to return.

Her solicitor, Sarah Symington of John J Rice & Co, claimed officials who initially refused the visa showed no compassion.

She said: "It appears that the Home Office on a regular basis provides a hostile environment and a 'cold house' for prospective visitors with an African passport."

The lawyers issued judicial review proceedings, arguing that the decision was unlawful and unreasonable.

However, counsel for the Home Office later told the court an agreement has been reached in the case.

With the challenge resolved, Ms Symington said she was delighted the Home Office has retaken its decision and granted a permit to the housekeeper.

"She awaits receipt of the visa to be able to travel in time for the wedding," the solicitor said.

"Our client is thrilled to arrive in Belfast within the coming week to celebrate this happy occasion with her friends."

Ms Symington went on to claim UK Border officials often provide "arbitrary and demeaning" grounds for rejecting applications made by those seeking to be reunited with family or to see friends.

Pointing to the alleged reasons for initially refusing a visa to Ms Satichi, she said: "The implication, which is not terribly subtle, is that life in Africa, whatever your circumstances, is one to be fled."

She added: "The obvious question remains as to how many other foreign nationals are applying for such visas and are being refused on similar spurious grounds.

"We suggest that the Home Office need to re-examine their decision making process and make changes to avoid court proceedings being brought which ultimately form a substantial pull on the public purse."

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