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Student's UK visa granted after media backlash

The UK has granted a visa for a student to attend an academic conference after public and media outcry following an “absurd” case. Initially, two students from Amsterdam University, whose nationalities are Bosnian and Turkish, had their applications rejected. One was late in submitting part of his paperwork, and the other’s student visa is expiring in December. There was a fear among immigration officials that the two would not return to their homes after the conference, despite the fact that they had booked return flights.

One of the students abandoned his bid to travel, but Nadza Dzinalija is delighted that her perseverance has paid off. She had been concerned that the UK rejection would be a black mark on her file for future visa applications.

Arrogant and ignorant

The barrister who represented Ms Dzinalija spoke of the “arrogant and ignorant” attitude that immigration officials took in assuming she would rather live in “a hostile environment without status” than to return to the country where she had invested in her education. She had already travelled extensively and been fully compliant with immigration restrictions.

It has been said by Philippe Sands, QC, that problems with visas, like this one, are becoming increasingly common. He blames government policy and the outsourcing to private companies, and has seen international civil servants and distinguished professors refused visas. Mr Sands claims Britain is now known globally as a country that refuses certain foreigners, and labels it “appalling” and “discriminatory”.

A sign of closing borders

Many academics are becoming worried that this case is part of a larger trend linked to Brexit. Trying to refuse a visa on the ground of concern that the visitor may refuse to leave is a sign that the UK may be trying to close its borders. Without open borders, the exchange of free and open ideas is restricted, and this could have a negative impact on progressive disciplines like science.

A Home Office spokesperson was quoted as saying that every visa application is considered according to immigration rules, utilising all the evidence that is provided. The U-turn on Ms Dzinalija’s case is encouraging, but this is just one of many similar stories. The positive to take from it is that people shouldn’t give up at the first hurdle when applying for a UK visa.


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