Dr Nazia Hussein completed her PhD at Warwick University, and now lectures at the University of Bristol. She recently applied for a permanent residence visa, but her request was denied, on the grounds that she had spent too many days outside the UK during the past decade. Hussein had previously returned to her home country of Bangladesh for six months, whilst conducting research for her PhD project. She believed this period would be considered a “legitimate absence” by the immigration authorities, given she was completing “essential fieldwork”. Her husband had previously been given a permanent residency visa, and her three-year-old daughter has a British passport.
An investigation into this issue, conducted by The Guardian, found that Hussein’s case is far from unique. Dr Asiya Islam, of Cambridge University, had her visa application denied for the same reason, and the report found that previous academics had been rejected as far back as 2018. In Islam’s case, Cambridge University had supported her claim that her PhD research project required her to spend a year in Delhi.
In Hussein’s case, she does not intend to appeal the Home Office’s decision on her visa. Her solicitor warned her that an appeal is likely to take so long, that she would risk over-staying her work visa whilst waiting for the result. After spending over £11,000 on legal fees, she has been able to obtain a two-year dependent visa, on the grounds that her husband has been granted a permanent visa.
Another academic claims that she was denied a permanent visa because she had spent two months working abroad at the University of Cape Town.
It is unknown whether any academics at Newcastle University have been affected by these issues.