Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused the government of putting Britain’s reputation in international research at risk by refusing UK visa applications from foreign academics.
Specifically, Mr Corbyn has slammed the Home Office for consistently failing to use discretion when it comes to considering UK visa applications from academics who may have conducted research elsewhere.
Although academics involved in global research are often required to travel overseas regularly, the Home Office has revealed that time spent outside of Britain by academics working abroad is grounds for the rejection of UK visa applications and applications for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
In one such case, US citizen Jennifer Wexler had her application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK refused despite having a British husband. According to the Home Office, the application was rejected on the grounds that she had spent a significant portion of the 11 years she has lived in the UK working or studying abroad, and therefore has not met the requirements for settlement.
According to Wexler, who mirrors Corbyn’s views, this approach to academics is causing a significant problem for the British research sector, making it impossible for foreign researchers to move the country while continuing to contribute to the research community overseas.
“The Home Office’s hard-line stance makes it impossible to properly carry out research that’s crucial to our work, and worse, a contributor to the UK’s international standing for excellence in higher education,” Wexler said. “Most countries want to retain highly-trained experts, not push them out.”