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Big Joe's Dad's Immigration Hell

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They may have a few other matters in their collective in-tray at the moment, but it’s safe to say that I’m not exactly impressed with the UK Government right now.

What’s provoked my ire (this time) is the news that Joe Cokanasiga’s father, Ilaitia, is apparently stuck in Fiji, prevented by immigration rules from returning to the UK to help look after his wife who awaits an operation for a brain tumour here.

This man is a retired sergeant in the British Army, who served this country for almost 14 years, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and yet is not allowed to reside in the UK as his permission to stay, granted while he was serving in the Armed Forces, is no longer valid.

Mr Cokansiga (who missed his son’s appearance at the World Cup as a result of the immigration rules) is currently not allowed back in to the UK after having attended his daughter’s wedding in Fiji in December.

It’s an issue that has also affected hundreds of other Commonwealth veterans who have been discharged from the Army with inadequate guidance from the MoD as to how to apply for indefinite leave to remain, who can’t afford the immigration application fees and who have since lost their jobs in the UK as they have been unable to prove that they have the right to remain.

It’s an utterly disgraceful way to treat those who have served this country with such distinction and I fully support the legal action brought by a group of such former soldiers against the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence which demands that the government acknowledge their failings and grant the veterans indefinite leave to remain for free.

And while you’re sorting all that out, allow Ilaitia Cokanasiga back into the UK to help care for his sick wife.

Total Flanker – the older I get, the better I was


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