The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has refused visa sponsorship to an international student because he campaigned for cleaners’ rights
Jason Moyer-Lee is an American student who did his MSc and PhD at SOAS and worked at SOAS in various capacities. Throughout his time at SOAS he was very active in various cleaners’ campaigns and trade unions including Unison, the IWGB, the Justice for Cleaners Campaign and the nationally recognized #3Cosas Campaign.
After the Coalition Government’s withdrawal of the post-study work visa, the only option Jason had to remain in the UK was through the new “Graduate Entrepreneur” visa scheme, which requires a recent graduate to obtain sponsorship from his university attesting that he has a “genuine and credible” business idea. Jason has already been told that his idea - a small consultancy on grassroots organizing - is credible but SOAS management has refused to grant sponsorship because of his involvement in cleaners’ campaigns.
Shreya Paudel, the International Students Officer at the National Union of Students (NUS) said:
“Jason’s case is a red flag for international students. Firstly, it points to the very restrictive post-study work arrangements for non-EU international students. Secondly, if Jason is not sponsored for his visa because of his political activism, it is a worrying situation and points towards the structural barriers placed against international students by the system.”
Likewise, SOAS’s decision has caused outrage among the SOAS community and the general public. As Dr. Moyer-Lee commences legal proceedings against SOAS, public pressure has begun to mount on SOAS management to reverse the decision.
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, said:
“I have worked with Jason in campaigning for the rights of University of London cleaners and am very disturbed that his important and effective work in standing up for union rights could now be causing the university to discriminate against him. To put at risk his ability to remain in the UK on that basis would be entirely inappropriate and against all traditions of academic freedom. I call on the university to review its decision.”
A protest has been called for 12:30, Wednesday, 10 December, 2014 at SOAS, Russell Square.
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