Joy after immigration appeal succeeds

AFTER 14 months of having to live more than 2,000 miles apart, Bayram Karabulut and Meral Yildirim may finally be able to live together as man and wife.

AFTER 14 months of having to live more than 2,000 miles apart, Bayram Karabulut and Meral Yildirim may finally be able to live together as man and wife.

Mr Karabulut, 33, breathed a sigh of relief when he heard from the Immigration Appellate Authority (IAA) his wife of just two-and-a-half years would be able to return from Turkey to their Foxhall Road home in Ipswich.

After months of trawling through their intimate letters, photographs, phone bills and household papers, the IAA ruled that Meral, 21, could return - overturning the entry clearance officer's original ruling that she had to stay in Turkey.

John Brewer, adjudicating, ruled the marriage was valid, that they could support themselves and that under Human Rights law, the couple had the right to expect their family life to be supported.

Meral must now wait an agonising further 56 days before she can come to Ipswich, to allow the authorities in Istanbul the chance to appeal against the decision.

Mr Karabulut, a Kurdish man who is now a British citizen, said: "The decision did not come as a surprise. I always knew it would be all right in the end. I always said I would put my trust in the law.

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"But although I respect the system and I understand the way the law works, I cannot forgive the people who did this to us. This should never have happened and I don't want anyone to go through what we have gone through.

"Our love has grown even stronger these 14 months – we are on the phone to each other several times a day. I suppose I should thank the Home Office for helping our love to grow."

Meral, 21, now faces the anxious wait to return. Speaking from Turkey, she said: "I am really happy that we won the case, but 56 days is a long time to wait.

"Sometimes I wondered what would happen if we didn't win the case, but I placed my trust in the courts and knew we would eventually win through.

"I am just angry at the way I was treated. They didn't want to listen to me at the British Embassy in Istanbul. They twisted my words and made me out to be a liar when all I wanted to do was to be with my husband."

The couple's nightmare began when Meral, whose application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK was still being processed, left the UK to attend a cousin's funeral in Turkey in June 2002.

Even though the Home Office had assured Meral that she would be allowed back in as long as she presented her paperwork to the British Embassy on her return, she has been stuck in Turkey since.

n The couple first met in Elazig in eastern Turkey in 2000.

N They couple made their way to Istanbul – where they had a religious marriage ceremony – and then to Holland.

N They were unable to get Meral a fiancee or spouse visa for Britain, because Mr Karabulut's divorce from his first wife, though finalised in Britain, would take another year to come through in Turkey.

N Meral was also refused a visit visa for the UK – so she obtained a visit visa for Ireland.

N From Dublin she went to Ipswich, marrying Mr Karabulut – a British citizen – on November 20 2000 at Ipswich Register Office.

N When Meral's one year spouse visa expired she applied for indefinite leave to remain.

N Meral left Ipswich to attend her cousin's funeral in Turkey in June 2002 while her application for an indefinite visa was still being processed.

N When she tried to return, Meral was not allowed back.

N The entry clearance officer ruled that the marriage was invalid and that Meral had used deception when first coming into the UK.

N She had originally obtained a visit visa for Ireland by saying Mr Karabulut was just a "friend" and not her fiance.