Dr Islam's appeal "is currently being considered by the Home Office"Andrew Hynes

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeicher has called upon the UK Home Office to reconsider the visa status of Dr Asiya Islam, a Junior Research Fellow in Sociology at Newnham, who was refused Indefinite Leave to Remain in November.

The Home Office claim that Islam was out of the UK for too many days, in violation of the terms of her student visa. Dr Islam has explained that her travel was necessary in order for her to conduct sociological research for her Cambridge PhD, which she completed last year.

Zeichner argued that “Ministers need to understand that many academics have to work abroad as part of their job”. Regulation for the Tier 2 visa, which international academics employed by the UK receive, have provisions to allow for extensive travel overseas for the purpose of academic fieldwork. However, the Tier 4 student visa, which Dr Islam was living in the UK on as she completed her PhD, does not allow such provisions.

Zeichner has called for UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to “think again and urgently grant permission to a researcher to be allowed to continue her academic work at the University of Cambridge”.

“Britain risks being left behind by a mean-spirited box ticking culture with no regard to ensuring the brightest and best contribute to world leading research,” he added.

A Home Office spokesperson told Varsity that Dr Islam’s appeal “is currently being considered by the Home Office”.

Speaking to Varsity, Dr Islam raised concern that if the Home Office does not reverse their decision on her case, it will have “serious ramifications for the UK’s ability to attract academic talent”.


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Over 2000 academics, both at Cambridge and elsewhere, have signed an open letter urging a reversal of the decision, but the Home Office has yet to indicate that it would reevaluate Dr Islam’s case, and Dr Islam has not received further communication from them.

Dr Islam is undertaking a legal appeal of the decision. Her appeal hearing on 27th February “is almost a full month after my current visa expires on 30 January” which, she argues, puts her “in not only a vulnerable, but an impossible position”.

In November, Dr Islam told Varsity, “It just feels like the Home Office is just building more and more walls to block out people as best as it can”, and in an opinion article in Times Higher Education published this week, she wrote that “for more than two months now, I have woken up every day thinking about my visa.” She has since added that it is “vital that the Home Secretary intervenes in my case urgently, particularly if she wants to demonstrate her commitment to ‘global Britain’.

The University and College Union (UCU) have also written to the Home Office on behalf of Islam. In a letter sent to Priti Patel on 13th January, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady raised concern about “the Home Office’s restrictive interpretation of the guidance means we risk losing a talented academic from our higher education sector”.

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