Siblings in direct provision who hope to become doctors and computer scientists have had their deportation postponed pending a review, following a last-minute intervention by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
Cork-based students Zubair, Umair and Mutjuba Khan faced deportation from Ireland as early as tomorrow afternoon, alongside their brother, UCC Sanctuary scholarship student Hamza, their sister Shazadi and parents Mubeen and Hina.
They were told of plans to deport them last Friday, having been refused international protection in Ireland.
The family sought asylum in Ireland from Saudi Arabia two years ago and have been living in direct provision in Cork city.
Aaron Wolfe, Principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís where the three youngest boys attend secondary school, said that Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney contacted him this evening to say that Mr Flanagan plans to review the case.
"The Khan family are obviously overjoyed at today's news and thank the people of Ireland for coming to their aid in their time of need. A planned demonstration to support the Khan family is cancelled. Instead we shall celebrate this news in school," he said.
Hamza Khan, the eldest of the boys is studying computer science in UCC having completed his Leaving Certificate last year.
Umair, 16 and who is in transition year, says his dream is to study medicine.
"I want to complete my education and do medicine. If I lose this opportunity I won't get any opportunity to go to college. I liked work experience. I was in Tesco in Paul Street (in Cork) and I did shelving. Transition year is very exciting."
Meanwhile Zubair is in fifth year and Mutjuba is in second year.
The boys received the backing of UCC, the Edmund Rice Trust, and their school as they campaigned to stay in Ireland. A group of their fifth year classmates gathered in the school today to give their support.
The family's father Mubeen, fled to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan to escape persecution in 1982. His wife Hina Mubeen is also from Pakistan but their children were born in Saudi Arabia.
The family continued to live happily in Saudi Arabia until their lives were changed by the death of King Abdullah in 2015. It is understood the new king, King Salman and his son Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, introduced new laws that favoured Saudi citizens.
Under these new laws, each family member had to pay 100 riyals each, with the tax set to increase by 100% each year after. To pay this the children had to drop out of school to get jobs.
Another law introduced in 2017, resulted in Mubeen losing his job and unable to pay their taxes the family faced deportation to Pakistan which they had already fled from originally. As a result the family were forced to leave Saudi Arabia, arriving in Ireland through England.
In a statement, UCC said that in the space of just two-and-a-half years, Hamza's academic trajectory has been very impressive.
"He made a huge impact on his school, Deerpark CBS. Not only did he achieve a strong Leaving Certificate, he won the Most Improved Student award 2018 and Student of the Year award in 2019," it said.
UCC was designated University of Sanctuary status in 2018 and offers Sanctuary Scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers seeking to study in higher education.
Fourteen scholarships have been awarded since the undergraduate scholarship scheme began in 2018, and several Adult and Continuing Education scholarships were launched this year.