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NUS Scotland: Stirling Student Detained by Home Office and Left in Limbo Despite Having Valid Visa

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A postgraduate student at Stirling University was detained by the UK Home Office in an immigration raid and has been held at Dungavel for 7 weeks, without immigration bail, despite having a valid student visa.

In June 2023, a University of Stirling postgraduate student, Muhammad Rauf Waris, was arrested and detained by immigration officers in his place of work. He is accused of breaching the conditions of his visa by working more than the legally permitted 20 hours per week.

He is currently being held at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre, where he has been detained for 7 weeks now, and has had his visa cancelled. 

The student has asserted that he was following his visa requirements, attending all of his classes, and completing all of his assignments. He was detained despite providing payslips which prove he has not worked over the 20 hour limit on student visas.

Despite this, the Court denied his application for bail, leaving him in Dungavel awaiting a decision on whether his case can be judicially reviewed.

A statement signed by STAR, Amnesty International, the National Union of Students Scotland and the European Students’ Union urges the Home Office to review his case and properly review the evidence provided in a timely manner.

The organisations also state that they are becoming increasingly worried about the student’s health, as according to a WHO report, immigration detention can have a severe impact on migrants’ physical and mental health, which increases in severity the longer someone is detained.

Muhammad Rauf Waris has told Stirling STAR (Student Action For Refugees) that he is experiencing extreme emotional distress and declining physical and mental health as a result of having been detained for this prolonged period.

He said: “I don’t want even my worst enemy to face this kind of mental torture that I am facing at the moment, as my health is very bad since I have been here. I can’t eat anything and whatever I am eating, I am vomiting next minute… I am mentally down and out, and I am not the only one – my family is suffering because of this unlawful detention.”

Stirling STAR are asking people to sign an open letter urging the Home Office to review Muhammad’s case and welcome him back to the University of Stirling as soon as possible.

Commenting, NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall said:

“This is the Home Office’s hostile environment policy in action. The student has been unnecessarily and inhumanely detained for seven weeks and denied bail despite his declining mental health and his ability to provide proof that he has not exceeded the legal limits of how much he can work.

“The cap of 20 hours on the amount international students can work is part of the inhumane hostile environment imposed by this UK government. In the worst cost-of-living crisis seen in decades, many students need to work more than this simply to be able to afford to eat and pay rent. Denying that right to international students is why 21% of those in Scotland have experienced homelessness.

“NUS demands that the student is immediately released on bail while his case is properly and fairly reviewed, and we want to see the end of the cruel immigration and asylum policies which play with the lives of vulnerable people for cheap political point-scoring.”

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