Immigration Woes

Three weeks ago I came to learn via a phone call I had with Immigration Service that the application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber I filed 10 months ago on the 28th August 2014 has gone missing. Adding insult to injury, the drone over the phone (I mean the Tribunal Customer Service rep) had the nerve to insinuate that perhaps I never filed an application to begin with!

After getting a friend in Leeds to do some digging, we were able to find the fax confirmation page and my application that I sent to the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber and again resent via e-mail on the 29th May 2015 to Immigration Service the Tribunal Customer Service Centre. As the fax confirmation page indicates, “transmission ok” means that the fax was successfully received without any technical glitches.  Below is the evidence.

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Who’s telling a load of porkies now? This is the fax confirmation page that was sent along with my application to the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber on the 28th August 2014. The destination address, aka, fax number, 0870 324 4011 is the direct fax number to the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber, Field House, 15 Breams Buildings, London, EC4A 1DZ

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For legal purposes I can’t put the entire application online. Here is a copy of the application I faxed to the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber on the 28th August 2014 which you can clearly see below my signature.

So how did I get into this immigration fiasco in the first place?

My student visa expired on the 31st December 2013 while I was awaiting my decision from the Office of Independent Adjudicators for Higher Education (OIA). A lot of my immigration mess was thanks to the University of Leeds taking almost a year to make a final decision concerning my adverse academic appeal claim which they made on the 16th April 2013, which ate into the last remaining year into my student visa! The cynic in me believes that the University of Leeds took their good long time making a decision concerning my case because they knew in the end I’d have very limited recourse to (a) continue my residency in order to challenge them further and (b) have the necessary money and sponsorship to remain legally in the UK.

Before the expiration of my student visa, I submitted a ‘leave outside the rules’ application to the Home Office, as I had up to December 2013, been a resident of the UK for 9 years. On the 28th March 2014 I was informed that my application for a ‘leave outside the rules had been denied’ so I decided to appeal against the decision. I later represented myself in the Lower Tribunal (First-tier) Immigration & Asylum Chamber on the 23rd July 2014 in Bradford. It was a completely nerve racking experience for me to represent myself in court, while homeless, and dealing with depression and anxiety. Despite all my limitations on the day, I was told by a immigration barrister from a well-known London firm that I did a good job of defending myself and made sound arguments for my case. Nonetheless, my Lower Tribunal case was unsuccessful and on the 28th August 2014 I submitted an application for my case to be heard in the Upper Tribunal Immigration & Asylum Chamber.

People who learn about my campaign tend to forget that there are a few components to my situation that I’ve been elaborating further via this blog– eviction/homelessness, institutional racism, ableism, bullying and now immigration.  All of these issues intersect for they show how state and institutional violence are used to effectively prevent migrants, especially those are women and people of color, from having any recourse to challenge discriminatory and racist events that prevent us equal access to education, housing, employment, and now health care.

Thanks to friends and supporters, I’ve been able to maintain myself despite many difficult hurdles. Nevertheless, legal aid cuts in April 2013 have severely tested this campaign and have made acquiring pro bono (i.e. free) immigration legal representation now an  insurmountable task. Despite filing an application for the Bar Pro Bono Legal Unit, a “clearing house, matching barristers prepared to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help”, I’ve been told that they can no longer consider my application requesting representation, indicating “…Unit could not provide assistance on the basis that the barrister who reviewed your application did not consider the case had sufficient chances of success to justify asking one of our volunteer barristers to assist.” This bit of news from the Bar Pro Bono Legal Unit has especially been disheartening to read given that the merits of my immigration have changed, especially given that I’ve now been in the country for 10 years and now I’m also dealing with bureaucratic incompetence and mis-mangement of my case.  Yet whoever is reviewing my application continually fails to take these issues into consideration.

It’s been 1.5 years since I’ve last seen/held my passport, which is now sitting on a shelf gathering dust inside the Home Office. Without a passport and a visa stamp, the Tories have effectively made it extremely difficult for individuals like myself in a visa-limbo state to exist within their exploitative system. At every juncture people like me are criminalized in this country due in part to the new and more brutal immigration rules. Even if I had money to support myself, I still would experience housing discrimination and subjected to the mercy of exploitative landlords who will use my immigration situation to further marginalize and abuse me, and unlike the constant far-right racist xenophobic vitriolic rhetoric from the likes of the Daily Hate, I have no recourse to benefits, no access to free health care, and no right to employment (unless an employer would like to sponsor me and go through a lengthy paper trail with the Home Office that would undoubtedly turn them off from employing me in the first place).

I’ve tried to rally the student unions that have passed motions to give support and solidarity to the Justice4Sanaz campaign to set up fundraisers so that I can get use the donation to get urgent immigration legal support, all too no avail. The only way I see that I’ll be able to access immigration legal support is if I raise the money on my own.

This is where you come in!

Besides needing money to survive as I have no recourse to work in the United Kingdom, I will need donations to go to saving money to hire a immigration legal team to help me with my constant battle with the racist xenophobic Home Office. You can donate via PayPal here, please indicate that whether the donation is for everyday expenses or for the new immigration drive.

Also, please chip in a few coins to the Campaign to Stop the Deportation of Luqman Onikosi and the Defend Orashia campaign.

Anything you can do to support Justice4Sanaz would be very much appreciate at this time. Many thanks again for your continued solidarity!

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About justice4sanaz

For 3 years, Sanaz Raji, a non-EU international student from the United States, has waged a fearless and brave fight against institutional aggression, bullying, and racism from the School of Media and Communication (formerly the Institution of Communications Studies) University of Leeds. The School of Media and Communication took away Sanaz's scholarship in August 2011, only 2 weeks before the start of her third year into her PhD studies. The School of Media and Communication breached their own procedures and rules concerning evaluating student progress. By taking away Sanaz's scholarship, the School of Media and Communication prevented her from continuing her studies in addition to having a decent standard of living with food and shelter that all students expect as a human right. In waging her battle for equal rights for non-EU international students, Sanaz was evicted from her university accommodation in May 2014, threatened with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) and now fighting against deportation. All non-EU international students should have the right to challenge their universities for their failings without the threat of harassment or deportation. Justice4Sanaz is a movement to redress the failure of the student movement to discuss the myriad of ways that non-EU students, especially those who are people of color, are silenced, bullied and threatened within the neoliberal British university system.
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