I would like to share an inspirational story that has further compounded my belief, that indeed, where there is a will there is a way, no matter how impossible things may look. It was with great honour that I was given permission by my client to share this story as I thought it would be encouraging to many of us.
I first came to know of Om’s story when her husband’s cousin, who was tirelessly seeking for a way to assist Om in returning to England, contacted me for legal advice.
The following is the inspirational story of Om, an amazing lady, who faced immigration challenges as a result of many personal misfortunes beyond her control.
Om is a Thai national who married a British National, with whom she lived in the UK for 4 years. During this time Om and her husband were blessed with a son, also a British National, and Om was granted Indefinite Leave to stay in the UK.
A few months after receiving her Indefinite Leave to Remain (a visa permitting her to stay permanently in the UK), Om was informed that her father was critically ill. Om decided to travel to Thailand to see her critically ill father, but unfortunately, three days after her arrival in Thailand, he passed away. She decided to extend her visit in order to take care of her elderly mother. Om’s husband and son then travelled to join her in Thailand in order to help her take care of her mother during the summer holidays.
Just as Om was about to travel back to England with her family, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Together with her family, Om decided to postpone their travel date in order to take care of her ailing mother who was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. In the meantime, she enrolled her son in a school in Thailand and started small-scale potato farming with her husband in order to support the family.
After one and a half years in Thailand, Om and her husband were blessed with a second child: a daughter. Two months after the birth of her second child, Om’s ailing mother unfortunately passed away. Due to the unfortunate events and since she could not travel with her two month old child, Om and her family had to again delay their plans for returning to England. It was prudent that Om sort out the issues relating to the property of her deceased parents, as she was the only child.
Unbeknown to Om, her passport was due to expire and her visa would soon be invalid, as the maximum two year permit for living outside the UK with indefinite leave to remain was about to lapse. Her visa lapsed and she had to reapply for a new visa in order to gain entrance back to the UK. Om applied for a visa but, as her husband was returning from the Embassy, tragedy struck again; Om’s husband was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident and was killed on the spot.
It is important to mention that whilst Om was staying in England with her now deceased husband and child, they had lived with Om’s mother in Law. Her Mother in Law was very supportive and visited Om and the children in Thailand, telling them that they were welcome to stay with her when they returned to England. During her stay in Thailand as a single mother, Om relied on potato farming in order to meet the needs of her children, as well as financial support from her British Mother in Law.
Making the Application
It was roughly a year after Om’s husband died that Om’s husband’s cousin contacted me and I got in touch with Om, who was seeking to return to England as a returning resident. I took over her case by making an application on two grounds that: firstly, that she was returning to England as a returning resident. Secondly, that she was a mother to two British nationals. This application was made at a time when a new case, Zambrano (see post here), with very similar facts to Om’s, had just been delivered by the upper tribunal. The application was made in December and Om’s mother in law’s MP Desmond Swyane, who was very supportive, also wrote a letter in support of the application.
Slap in the face
However, much to our surprise, the Home Office declined the application on the following basis: firstly, that, despite the fact that she had lost her husband and family, because she was born in Thailand, she would be fine. This point failed to make reference to her two British children. Secondly, that the Zambrano case did not apply to Om’s children, who were outside the EU, despite the fact that they were British. It is worth noting that the Home Office reasoning was wrong as it was contrary to the court’s decision regarding Zambrano, which stated that there is nothing that bars the Zambarano case applying to children outside the EU, especially in cases where the main carer is based abroad.
Appeal and political support
Following the Home Office decision I appealed the case on behalf of Om’s family. I advised the family to approach their MP,Rt Hon Desmond Swayne TD , who had been supportive in the initial application. He liaised with me and advised that I seek an administrative review of the Home Office decision as it affected the rights of Om and her children from gaining entrance into the UK. This administrative review was based on the following grounds: Firstly, to save the family from putting an appeal through the court system, which would be costly. Secondly, Om had already pulled her children from school in the hope that she would soon be returning to England and this administrative review would reduce the time spent outside school by the children while waiting for an appeal through the court.
Om’s case held solid grounds for appeal, as the EU decision on the Zambarao case would have binding for the first trial court. It was also in our favour that the Home office was wary of a drawn out court battle that would have resulted in many people bringing similar cases before the court.
Success at last
It is with great pleasure that I write that Om was recently called to pick up her visa from the Embassy. In addition it took me by surprise that the visa was granted under EU law as an EEA Family permit, even though it was earlier stated by the Home office that this did not apply to children living outside the EU.
A triumphant return to England
A testament to the hope and patience that Om and her family displayed, this Monday there was a lot to celebrate as she and her children were reunited with her English family.
I hope this story has been an encouragement to all of us who face challenges that we should never lose hope no matter what!
This story has also further renewed my faith in the practice of human right law and I’m happy to be a part of this story!
Thank you to Om and her family for their faith in me and for letting me share their story.
Apparently the Government seem to have changed their mind about having Om here and now she is fighting a battle again as the government want to separate her from her children and send her back to Thailand , However, following an online See Petition Here!!
But Justice prevail in court, Appeal allowed on the spot in court by Immigration Tribunal Judge 🙂