MSP Gil Paterson has spoken out in defence of a Canadian constituent who has been told he must leave the UK next month — despite being awarded a £1.32m government grant for research into climate change.
Dr Kevin Parsons, a biodiversity lecturer at the University of Glasgow living in Bearsden, has been told he must leave his wife and two children on June 11 after the Home Office refused to renew his visa.
The decision has been made despite the fact that he has been given a major research grant of £1.32 million from Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), an independent funding arm of the Tory government.
The same government has rejected his request to stay in the UK to continue his scientific work into climate change.
His wife qualifies for British citizenship and is applying and his youngest daughter was born in the UK.
Dr Parsons says staff at UK Visas told him to obtain indefinite leave to remain status before his wife applied for citizenship, otherwise he could be the odd one out in the family and find himself deported.
But he’s since been told that he should not have done this and because of this mistake he has lost £2,887 in fees and to stay the family will need to apply for settlement or renewal of ancestry which could cost around £13,000.
Mr Paterson raised the matter at First Minister’s Questions on May 18, and Nicola Sturgeon condemned the decision by the Home Office. He has also written to the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Goodwill MP on the matter.
The First Minister said the Scottish Government would investigate further and take up the fight to ensure the academic is not torn away from his family and work.
Gil Paterson, Milngavie MSP, said: “The crisis facing Dr Kevin Parsons and his family needs to be resolved by as a matter of extreme urgency.
“While one arm of the Tory Government is funding scientific research he is leading, another, the Home Office, is ordering him to leave the country. Where is the sense there?
“The situation is emblematic of the treatment of migrants in across the UK by the Tory Government and cannot be allowed to continue.
“I call on the Tory Government to sort this out – we must not lose a highly valued member of society like this through what is completely outrageous behaviour from the Home Office.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to look into the matter.
At FMQs, she said: “From the details that he has shared with members today, the case that Gil Paterson has outlined seems to illustrate the complete wrong-headedness of the UK Government’s approach to immigration.
“As the Tories publish their manifesto today, we see a recommitment to an immigration target that they know is undeliverable. They also know that, in trying to deliver that target, they will do untold damage to not just the Scottish economy but the UK economy as a whole.”
We have contacted the Home Office for a comment.