Global talent visa exposes Home Office after sociologist at Cambridge University is denied residency

An academic has been forced to abandon her appeal for permanent residency or risk losing her job.

Dr Asiya Islam, a sociologist at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, was denied leave to remain and lodged an appeal in November.

Her appeal comes after the home office announced a new visa designed to attract the best researchers was launched, with the department declaring that the UK is "open to global talent" last week.

Angry academics say their protests about the Home Office’s “shocking” refusal to grant residency to Dr Islam, an “unequivocally superb” Indian sociologist had fallen on deaf ears.

Senior academics warn that unless the government reins in its hostile application of immigration rules, talented international researchers will not want to work or live in the UK.

Her visa expired in January and lawyers advised her to apply for a temporary tier 2 visa to avoid "overstaying" and losing the right to work. The Home Office confirmed Dr Islam has temporary leave to remain.

Boris Johnson said: “As we leave the EU I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality.”

Nonetheless, many academics say that message is being drowned out by the aggressive immigration environment.

Dr Islam, who is originally from Aligarh in India, has lived in the UK for 10 years and was awarded a three-year junior research fellowship at the university last year.

The Home Office rejected her permanent residency application because of the amount of time she spent overseas.

Dr Islam said that she would not be physically removed from the country while the appeal was pending but that she would become an overstayer in the country and potentially lose the right to work and rent.

"So effectively I would be jobless and homeless and enter this legal limbo where I don't have a legal status to stay in the country."

Dr Islam praised her employers for their support and said she felt like she was living through a "crisis" situation.

A Home Office spokeswoman said its guidance was clear that no immigration application can be processed while an appeal is outstanding.

More than a thousand academics signed a letter last year in protest at the Home Office's decision.

Dr Islam's visa will only be valid until the end of her current contract in 2022.

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