Stop Home Office deportation of elderly couple to Iran

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The UK Home Office is close to deporting an elderly Iranian couple, who have been UK residents for over 40 years and act as co-parents to their severely autistic grandchild. The 83-year-old great-grandfather and 73-year-old great-grandmother also rely on their family for daily support, as their health is poor. Their son Navid has termed the decision 'a death sentence'.

Mozaffar Saberi and Rezvan Habibimarand bought their Edinburgh flat in 1978 and raised four children in the UK, all of whom have British citizenship. The couple originally came to the UK as visitors and did not seek British citizenship. Their later claim to remain in Britain was subsequently rejected. They have made repeated human rights applications to remain in the UK since 2013, but the Home Office has refused every one. 

Then-Home Secretary Theresa May introduced changes that tightened the 'adult dependant relative rule' in 2011. According to John Vassiliou, a solicitor at McGill & Co Solicitors, 'the consequence of this tightening is that it has become almost impossible for any British citizen or settled person to bring their adult parents into the UK.' 

Rezvan says: 'Going back to Iran would be the end of us...we have so many illnesses that it would not just be physically the end for us...but emotionally the end too: there's no one in Iran left for us to go back to.'

Aside from the physical and emotional stresses of forcibly removing this elderly couple from their home of four decades, their support for their grandson is key to his wellbeing. Their help also enables the boy's mother, a chartered psychologist and single parent, to work as an NHS nurse.

John Vassiliou says: 'it seems that the Home Office would prefer someone quit their job and resort to burdening the public purse rather than allowing the child's grandparents to stay and help out. ...the Government seems to have completely lost sight of the fact that these are two very elderly people with nobody in Iran, and with an entire family spanning three generations in the UK. It seems inhumane to us that such a matter is even up for debate.' 

The couple's final appeal is coming up. If this is a failure, like their previous cases, they will be sent back to Iran, where they have no-one. They are unlikely to be granted future visit visas to the UK. It is also considered unlikely their health would allow them to come back to the UK to visit their family. The option of travelling to Iran to see them would be particularly fraught for their grandson.

I am appalled at this cruel decision to deport Mozaffar Saberi and Rezvan Habibimarand, and call upon the Home Office to revise their decision and allow this couple to spend the rest of their lives in the country they call home, surrounded by the family that they brought up here. I hope that many people agree that this treatment of vulnerable elderly people is shameful. 

This story was reported today (January 18th) by the Guardian, and more details are here: