Britain puts out the welcome, Matt

ASYLUM seeker Matt Rahmati is today looking forward to the best Christmas present ever by being reunited with his wife and friends in Suffolk.Mr Rahmati has spent the last three months in Afghanistan and New Delhi desperately trying to get back to Britain after being deported in August.

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ASYLUM seeker Matt Rahmati is today looking forward to the best Christmas present ever by being reunited with his wife and friends in Suffolk.

Mr Rahmati has spent the last three months in Afghanistan and New Delhi desperately trying to get back to Britain after being deported in August.

Yesterday officials at the British Embassy in New Delhi granted his application for a spouse's visa and, subject to the results of a medical examination, he will be allowed to return in the next few weeks.

He said: “I hope that if it all goes well I could be home within two weeks.

“I had quite a thorough examination, things like blood tests and x-rays just to make sure I am healthy.

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“The man at the embassy said to me that if things are cool then I am on my way home.

“I feel quite calm now really, much better than I did before the interview.

“It will be so nice to be at home for Christmas, being here alone would be really hard.”

Mr Rahmati, of Victoria Street, Ipswich, was given the news after an interview with immigration officials who checked all of his papers and asked him about his reasons for wanting to return to Britain.

Mr Rahmati's wife Tanya, 22, said: “I'm so happy. I had been getting more and more nervous as the day of his interview approached and it's amazing to know that he is finally coming home.

“It's going to take ten to 15 days for him to get the results of his medical back, which feels like forever, but we have waited this long already so I'm sure I'll cope.

“He's hopefully going to be home in time for Christmas which is great.

“There were times when I did think to myself 'If he doesn't come back what am I going to do?'

Tanya's mum Karen Barosso also received an early morning phone call from a very excited Matt.

She said: “I don't think we've stopped grinning yet.

“I haven't seen Tanya this happy for months.

“It means we will all be back together for Christmas.”

N Do you think it is right for Mr Rahmati to have been sent home, rather than to have dealt with the matter in this country? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today said he was pleased to hear Mr Rahmati should be coming home.

He said: “I am delighted to hear that Matt will be able to return to this country and resume his life in Ipswich. That is good news for his family and friends in this country.

“I understand the frustration felt by people that he had to leave to make a fresh application, but the government is in a difficult position in this kind of case.

“It cannot allow people to change the basis on which they apply to remain in the country as happened in this case - although it can consider fresh applications from abroad.

“Hopefully as cases are dealt with much faster now there should not be case like Matt's any longer. The problem arose because he was in the country for so long after making his initial asylum application that, by the time that was dealt with, the situation in his home country had changed.

“Now applications are being dealt with much faster so this kind of problem should not arise again.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said no records were kept of how many people are allowed to return to the UK within months of being removed having had their application for a spouse's visa approved.

“If someone is in this country on a temporary visa and gets married they have to return to their country of origin to apply for a spouse's visa. That involves people going through different checks, which have to be carried out in the embassy. That's why we have embassies.

“If you want a different visa you have to go back, it's so we know why people are coming in.”

A spokeswoman for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said: “There have to be rules but this is particularly bureaucratic. The system does not take into account the contribution people make to their communities here in the UK.

“To most people it seems excessively bureaucratic an uncompassionate.”

In 2003/2004 The Home Office's Immigration and Nationality Directorate spent £285 million “supporting voluntary return, detaining immigration offenders and enforcing removal” and, according to the JCWI that figure may well rise.

The spokeswoman added: “The rules are so complicated and the situation has such a lack of commonsense that this will happen more and more.”

Between 1994 and May 2004 79,500 failed asylum applicants were removed from the UK but there are no figures for how many return within months, like Mr Rahmati.

MR Rahmati arrived in England at the age of 16 in January 2000 after fleeing the Taliban in his home country of Afghanistan.

After being granted temporary permission to stay, Mr Rahmati learned English and worked as a mechanic in Ipswich. He also met and married Ipswich woman Tanya Barroso.

Mr Rahmati was told by the Home Office it was safe to return to his home country and he was threatened with deportation.

He first spoke out about his plight on March 15 and by early April nearly 1,000 people had signed petitions protesting about his departure.

However, on August 26 immigration officials and police swooped on Mr Rahmati's home, in Victoria Street, Ipswich, to take him into custody.

He was flown to Afghanistan and had hoped to travel from there to the British Embassy in Dubai, but his family say he was told he was too young and he was forced to rethink his plans and go to India instead.

Mr Rahmati travelled to New Delhi to await an appointment at the British Embassy.

His wife Tanya and mother-in-law Karen flew over to visit him in October.

He is currently still in New Delhi, where he met with embassy officials yesterday to find out whether he would be granted a spouse's visa.

If he passes a medical he could be back in Ipswich by Christmas.

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