Sheffield student freed from detention over immigration concerns wins back university status

Ahmed Sedeeq
Ahmed Sedeeq
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A Sheffield student who fled Isis but was placed under threat of deportation over a visa dispute has had his university privileges restored.

Ahmed Sedeeq, aged 30, from the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, is taking a PhD in computer science at Sheffield University, but his studies were suspended after he was held following a routine reporting session on December 18.

Almost 12,000 people have signed a petition to keep Ahmed in the UK, and he has been released from the Morton Hall removal centre in Lincolnshire with his asylum claim still officially under review.

Now Ahmed, who has paid £57,000 in tuition fees, has had his university registration reinstated after the Home Office provided written confirmation of his immigration status. The decision comes after more than 300 academics put their names to an open letter, calling for the student to be allowed to finish his thesis in the UK.

A meeting has been arranged to discuss the case and Ahmed - who said he had felt 'surrounded by uncertainty' and that he could be detained again at any time - has been given the opportunity to talk to student support staff.

A spokesman said: "The university is aware of the recent detention of Ahmed Sedeeq in relation to visa compliance. Our student support staff have been in regular contact with both Ahmed and his solicitor since we were made aware of the case some weeks ago, including liaising with his legal advisers over the Christmas period.

"We have now received confirmation in regards to Ahmed’s immigration status which has enabled us to restore his university registration and continue to support him in resuming his studies."

Sanaz Raji, a member of campaign group Unis Resist Border Controls, who signed the open letter, had claimed the university was 'colluding' with the Government's 'hostile' policies.

But the spokesman said: "The university is committed to ensuring our community is open to scholars and students from across the world, and we work hard to provide a helpful advice service to students which includes helping them understand legal requirements in relation to UK student registration. Information and guidance on UK immigration and visas for international students can be found online and this is supplemented by advice and guidance from experienced staff."

Ahmed first came to the UK in 2011 to take a masters in advanced software engineering at the university, returning to Mosul afterwards. He then gained a PhD position at Sheffield's department of computer science, and came back to the UK again in 2013 after applying for a student visa.

He applied for asylum in the UK in 2014, when Jihadist group Isis declared Mosul its capital. His case was rejected multiple times but he eventually obtained a shortened student visa, which he says he exceeded mistakenly.

Ahmed says his life would be in danger in Iraq because of his atheist beliefs and past statements he has made opposing radical Islamism.

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases, but stated: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and in accordance with the immigration rules. When someone has no leave to remain in the UK, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily. Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.”