Am I a counterfeiter?

Asma is a Pakistani PhD student working in Irshad Hussain group in Pakistan. She was supposed to join my lab for a 6 months period starting in December. She had obtained competitive funding from the Higher Education Commission in Pakistan for this visit. Her visa has now been refused by the UK Border Agency (Home Office) and she has no right to appeal.

One element supporting the decision to reject her application was that she had shown a letter of support from the University of Liverpool (my letter) but  “The layout and standard of the letter […] is of poor quality, especially the headed top part of the letter which looks scanned. I therefore cannot be satisfied that this letter is genuine.”

I had been in contact about 20 times with Asma and Irshad discussing her project, providing a letter and a one page project, etc. The officer could have send an e-mail to me and he/she would have found out in two minutes and without any efforts that there was a real partner and a real project.

Our new immigration rules will have to be revised if we do not want to endanger our collaborative research culture, warned Mathias Brust not so long ago.  Is it still time?



  1. We were really surprized, rather shocked, of this decision and now there seems a real danger to our foreign collaborations. Another reason for her rejection was that she has not sufficient funds to support her stay, but she has an HEC standard fellowship of 750 GBP/month that should be enough to support her stay being single. I feel such decisions are of no help to encourage global research collaborations which may also be very useful to understand each other’s culture and developing friendly attitude/relations. She should have at least given the right to appeal.


  2. Really sorry to hear this on all sorts of levels – the damage it does to collaborative research, the unaccountable and ineffective bureaucracy that runs roughshod over peoples lives and the damage it does to Britain’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming country.

    I only hope that this young woman finds a similar opportunity in a place which welcomes her talents.


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