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UK rejects Palestinian's student visa in spite of previously providing her a scholarship

February 9, 2024 at 3:06 pm

Amena El Ashkar

The UK Home Office has refused to grant a visa to a Palestinian refugee who was previously supported by a government scheme and who now has a full scholarship to study at the London School of Economics.

Amena El Ashkar, who was born and raised in Lebanon and describes herself as a stateless Palestinian, successfully applied for the four-year PhD programme at LSE in 2022.

She has previously completed a master’s degree in Israeli studies at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) after receiving a Chevening Scholarship, a programme for “emerging leaders” funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

However, the Home Office told Ashkar her application for a visa to continue her studies had been denied because it would “harm the public interest”. It gave no further details. It was later discovered that then Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, had personally approved the decision to deny Ashkar’s visa.

Ashkar’s lawyers said the Home Office’s failure to provide any reason why her visa was denied was “difficult to fathom” and “raises questions as to whether it has been refused because of the relationship between the United Kingdom and another country”.

Last week, a judge in the Upper Tribunal for Immigration and Asylum cases criticised the current home secretary, James Cleverly, for failing to disclose that he had personally certified the decision to not give Ashkar a student visa and said it was “unlawful”.The FCDO declined to comment and said the case was a matter for the Home Office. The Home Office has not commented on the matter.

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