Home Office says ‘sorry’ for bureaucratic blunder

Yaroslava with MP Stephen Gethins, who says that such a situation 'must never be allowed to arise again'.
Yaroslava with MP Stephen Gethins, who says that such a situation 'must never be allowed to arise again'.

A Chernobyl orphan who almost missed out on a Christmas visit to her host family in Cupar has received an apology from the Home Office.

Just days before 14-year-old Yaroslava Naida was due to fly to Scotland from her home near the Ukraine’s ‘dead zone’, she was told her visa application had been denied because she hadn’t provided sufficient evidence that she was at school.

The teenager and her host parent, Anna Beattie, were bitterly disappointed and called for assistance from North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins ‘ office.

The case was reviewed by the Home Office and a visa issued but it was too late for Yaroslava to come to Cupar for Christmas with Anna and her family.

She eventually arrived on Hogmanay, having travelled from Kiev to Edinburgh courtesy of KLM.

Anna had lost hundreds of pounds on the original flights because of the bureaucratic mix-up.

The Home Office was initially unrepentant, but Mr Gethins has now received a letter from the director of UK Immigration & Visas, which says: “On reviewing Miss Naida’s case it has been determined that the letter from the school was sufficient and should have been accepted. I am sorry that this was cited as a reason for refusal and for any distress it may have caused.”

Mr Gethins said: “This error led to a young girl and her hosts really being put through the mill. Yaroslava was very upset and her elderly grandmother, who cares for her and her two sisters, had to make two costly trips to Kiev to find out what was happening.

“It is clear that Yaroslava would have been denied her Christmas holiday had there not been intervention by my office. I am extremely grateful to KLM for providing complimentary flights and the minor unaccompanied service to ensure Yaroslava arrived here safely.

“I hope the Home Office will review its procedures especially when it comes to Chernobyl orphans coming to the UK.”