Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows has won a victory over the Home Office after a Syrian GP was denied access to the UK.
Dr Ghaith Rukbi, a GP studying at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre in Lebanon, is originally from Aleppo, where his parents and sister still live.
Dr Rukbi spent four weeks learning from NHS doctors in Scotland and passing on his expertise to GP practices in Glasgow, Skye, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire to help them care for Syrian refugees coming here.
The Home Office rejected Dr Rukbi’s visa application on the grounds they believed he did not have sufficient funds to support himself or reason enough to return to Lebanon.
This was in spite of him being accommodated by local GPs during his visit and being in the third year of a four year postgraduate course at the university in Beirut.
Dr Rukbi’s sponsor, Wishaw GP Dr Alec Logan, has hosted two Lebanese GPs from the same university in the past, but they had no issues gaining their visa.
Dr Logan, Dr Rukbi and Mrs Fellows feared Syrian nationals were being blacklisted by the Home Office following the refugee crisis.
Following a Parliamentary question, Mrs Fellows met Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill MP. After her intervention the Home Office agreed to reconsider Dr Rukbi’s case and he was allowed to come to Scotland.
Mrs Fellows said: “If we are serious about accommodating refugees, we have to make sure we have the full skills and understanding of how to provide primary care to people from such extraordinary circumstances.
“The Home Office’s reasoning for barring Dr Rukbi from entering the UK was utterly ridiculous. It seems every other day there is a new case where someone is being unjustly barred or deported.
“In the case of Dr Rukbi, it is clear to see the detrimental effects the Home Office’s draconian immigration obsession can have.”
Dr Logan: “For myself and my colleagues across Scotland hosting Ghaith has been an honour and a privilege.
“I am very grateful for Marion Fellow’s intervention, and also for Robert Goodwill’s decision to overturn the Home Office’s original decision.”