Pakistani Student Held Over Alleged Visa Breach, Worry For All

Pakistani Student Held Over Alleged Visa Breach, Worry For All

Indian students expressed worry after Muhammad Rauf Waris, a Pakistani student enrolled at Stirling University in Scotland, was arrested in June 2023, after allegedly breaching his student visa regulations.

Megha ChowdhuryUpdated: Monday, August 21, 2023, 10:51 AM IST
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Indian students expressed worry after Muhammad Rauf Waris, a Pakistani student enrolled at Stirling University in Scotland, was arrested in June 2023, after allegedly breaching his student visa regulations. The violation pertains to Waris working beyond the sanctioned 20-hour per-week limit.

Despite presenting evidence to support his adherence to visa constraints, Waris was detained during court proceedings. He has been detained at the Dungavel immigration deportation center for the past eight weeks after being denied bail.

As the University of Stirling’s students put out a series of tweets about Waris' situation, the student spoke to a group of international students about his deteriorating mental health after being imprisoned.

“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,” said the statement by Waris to Amnesty.

Open letter signed by hundreds

In solidarity, a group of students and human rights advocacy groups - Amnesty at the University of Stirling, Student Action for Refugees Stirling, NUS Scotland, and No Evictions Network - have written an open letter urging the Home Office to make a decision on the case as soon as possible, which they have invited the public to sign. The letter has so far been signed by hundreds of fellow students and human rights activists.

Indian students express worry

"It doesn't make sense," says Varunpreet Singh, an Indian student at Stirling University. "He did not harm, kill, or rob anyone." "How can someone be treated this way simply because they are working to support themselves?" asked Singh in anger.

Under current rules, international students in the UK can work up to 20 hours a week including paid or unpaid work and for one or more organizations. The 20 hours cannot be averaged over a longer period.

During vacation periods, foreign students are allowed to work full time.

“Thousands of people have signed the petition as part of an eleventh-hour plea to stop the deportation of Waris,” added Singh.

Indian students suspect more detentions are likely and that thousands of other students could face the threat of being trapped, detained and deported.

"It makes no difference if Waris is from Pakistan or another country. For all international students, this is terrifying. We can relate to his circumstances,” adds Suren Gupta, an Indian student at the same university. Many international students have exhausted their savings and are under pressure to repay loans. Working in such circumstances, according to Gupta, should not be considered a crime.

Another Indian student, who requested anonymity said “For an individual to be held for this length of time is completely unacceptable. A 24-hour work limit is not practical, the authorities need to grasp this reality.”

“Not every student who comes to the UK is financially well-off, we are compelled to work to cover fees, rent, and various expenses. Moreover, businesses rely on our contributions to. A significant portion of students are currently engaged in cash-in-hand jobs since they face restrictions in obtaining legal employment.”

“There are employers, mainly in restaurants and warehouses, who are making most of this situation by underpaying in cash and willing to take the risk of employing international students to work beyond their work hour limit,” 

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