The orphaned son of an asylum seeker who has lived under the threat of deportation has been told he can stay in Scotland permanently.

Giorgi Kakava said he is delighted and very relieved that the Home Office has finally granted him the right to remain indefinitely which means he can continue living in Glasgow for as long as he wants.

The 13-year-old said a "big weight" had been lifted off his shoulders but is sad and disappointed that his grandmother, Ketino Baikhadze, has only been given 30-months leave to remain. 

She could still be facing a forced return to Georgia, the country they were born in.

The Springburn Academy pupil, who is in his second year at the school, arrived in Glasgow when he was three. 

Glasgow Times: [Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland][Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland]

He said: "I was very excited when I heard that I have been granted permanent residency and can continue staying here. 

"It is good news because Glasgow is my home, I feel Scottish and if I got moved to Georgia it would be tough to cope without all my friends. 

"But the decision is very unfair on my nan because we are very close and I do not know what I would do if she was sent away."

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The Church of Scotland campaigned for nearly three-and-a-half years to ensure Giorgi and his grandmother were not removed from their home against their will.

The case was led by Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church, who lobbied the UK and Scottish governtment and launched an online petition which received over 90,000 signatures.

Giorgi and his mother, Sopio Baikhadze, fled to Glasgow in 2011 due to fears that gangsters whom her late husband owed a debt to would either kill him or sell him to sex traffickers. 

Glasgow Times: [Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland][Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland]

The 35-year-old, who worked as a freelance translator and spoke four languages, was awaiting the outcome of an appeal for asylum when she passed away after a long illness in early 2018.

Mr Casey conducted her funeral at Springburn Parish Church along with Father John McGrath of nearby St Aloysius Church and it was her dying wish that her son remained in Glasgow and continued to grow up a "Scottish boy".

The case was raised at Holyrood by MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Bob Doris and at Westminster by former Glasgow North-East MP turned MSP, Paul Sweeney.

In July, 2018 the Home Office granted the teenager and his grandmother leave to remain in the UK for 30-months.

Their permits expired in December last year, leaving them facing an uncertain future.

The Church reignited the campaign and used the mainstream media and social media to highlight the family's case.

This move led to more signatures and representations directly made to Home Secretary, Priti Patel.

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Asked how he coped with living under uncertainty since the death of his mother, Giorgi said: "I have felt stressed because it has always been in the back of my mind that something could go wrong and I might be sent away to a place I do not remember.

"But I was not scared because I have had people behind me.

"I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition and all those who have supported me.

"People in Springburn have been by my side helping throughtout all of this, they are very kind and I will always be grateful.

"I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can move forward with my life with a lot less stress than I felt before."

Mrs Baikhadze said she was "very happy" that the campaign to keep Giorgi in the UK had been successful.

The 61-year-old is pragmatic about her own situation and explained: "I live for Giorgi and as long as he is fine, I am fine as well.

"It is great news that he has been granted permanent reisdency and I would also like to thank everyone who has supported and helped us."

Mr Casey said he is "delighted" that Giorgi has finally been given the chance to live the life of a normal teenager.

Glasgow Times: [Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland][Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland]

He said: "It has been a long fight but it would have been criminal to send him back to a country that he doesn't know where he could be in danger.

"But it does seem wrong that his gran, who is his guardian, will have to go through this whole protracted process again when he is 15 and still a minor.

"So, as we move forward we will have to keep an eye on that because it would be a travesty if they are split up."

He explained why he could not stand by and risk seeing a grieving 10-year-old boy being taken away from everything he knows.

He said: "I was the chaplain at Giorgi's primary school and when I was asked to conduct his mum's funeral and learned of his situation and what he was facing, I tried to put myself in his position and thought 'what would I do, who would stand up for me and be on my side?"

He added: "I started writing letters to the Home Office, MPs, MSPs and then launched the petition with the support of my colleagues and local politicians which touched a nerve with a lot of people."

Mr Casey arranged for a tree to be planted in the church garden in Sopio's memory to give Giorgi somewhere to go to remember his mother as her body was repatriated to Georgia, a former soviet republic, for burial.

Glasgow Times: [Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland][Photograph courtesy of Church of Scotland]

Andrew Bradley, a lawyer who specialises in immigration cases, said the future remained uncertain for Mrs Baikhadze and she might have to wait up to 10 years before being granted indefinite leave to remain.

He said: "I am hopeful that is what will happen but there is no guarantee. Unfortunately this ongoing uncertainty is the daily life of many families and that is the sad reality of the way the system works."

Dr Tracy Kirk, a children's rights expert at Glasgow Caledonian University, said she is delighted for Giorgi and his case highlighted the need for human rights to underpin decision making in all processes which impact a child. 

She said: "Current immigration processes are long, complicated and are not underpinned by the human rights of those impact by them."

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Mr Doris said he is very pleased that Giorgi's future is now secure but disappointed that his grandmother has not been granted the same status as him.

The MSP said: "Much heartache and worry could have been avoided some time ago had the Home Office simply moved qucikly to provide cetainty for Giorgi and his gran. 

"Such a protracted process benefits no-one."