A Black Watch soldier serving at Fort George will at last be reunited with his teenage daughter after a U-turn by the Home Office to now allow her into the country.
Lance Corporal Denis Omondi, a British citizen originally from Kenya, described his delight last night at seeing 14-year-old Ann again – possibly even as soon as this weekend.
L/Cpl Omondi, who has done tours of Afghanistan, Iraq and Cyprus during his eight years with the historic regiment, had applied for his daughter to join him and his wife Shelagh in Inverness last year.
The visa application was initially rejected, despite the soldier having uncontested custody.
But, following a Home Office review, they have overturned the decision and she has now been given visa access to the UK.
L/Cpl said: “This is the best news ever. When we told Ann she was coming to be with us she was absolutely delighted. She is so keen to join us in Scotland and begin a new life.”
Wife Shelagh added: “We are delighted Ann will now be able to join us. It was a ridiculous decision to reject her application, but it is something hundreds of Commonwealth soldiers are battling – not just Denis – to be reunited with their families.
“We are so grateful for the support we have received from thousands of people around the world who agreed denying her entry into Scotland was an injustice.”
L/Cpl Omondi has visited Ann in Kenya every year since 2012, when he first became aware that she was his child.
After the application was rejected on the grounds he had not seen her enough, he appealed and he and his wife, who is recovering from breast cancer, sought help from Highland MP Drew Hendry.
Mr Hendry has led the campaign to reunite the family and raised the issue personally with the prime minister and the home secretary.
He secured a review of their case and Mr Omondi has been informed his daughter can now live in Scotland.
Mr Hendry said: “I am absolutely delighted for Denis, Shelagh and Ann. The past months have been incredibly difficult for them and, at least now they can look forward to the future and finally be together as a family.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported them, including the thousands of people who signed the petition calling on the Home Secretary to right this wrong. I know the outpouring of support and friendship meant the world to them all.
“This is the right result but it has been a hard slog with the Home Office.
“The fact that this family, like many others, were put through this traumatic experience shows just how damaging the UK Government’s approach to immigration is to our communities. I hope lessons can be learned from this case to avoid putting others through the same difficulties.”
The visa application process could take between five to 15 days to clear, but the family hope she could be with them as soon as this weekend.
Ann, who currently attends private school in Kenya, is hoping to enrol with Millburn Academy when she arrives in Inverness.
A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available and in line with UK immigration rules.
“Following the submission of additional information and a review of Mr Omondi’s case we are satisfied that the application now meets the immigration rules.”
He said they have now advised Mr Omondi of the next steps that need to be taken to secure the visa.