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‘Treated like a criminal’: Nepali student wrongly detained at UK border loses uni place

Published: 11/28/2022

An international student who flew to the UK to take up a university scholarship was detained at the border and held in custody for 12 days after being unable to answer detailed questions about his course.

Sulav Khadka said he felt as though he had been “treated like a criminal” by Border Force officers who accused him of being a fake student after he landed at Manchester airport in October. The 23-year-old, from Nepal, had a valid visa, proof of his university place and paperwork showing he had paid his first year’s fees in full. But, on arrival in the UK, he was interrogated about intricate details of his course, including being asked to list the titles of the six modules he would be studying.

After a 16-hour journey and having not yet started the degree, he could name only two. He was also asked the name of the exam body that would award his qualification but did not know. That and the fact a letter from his bank in Nepal contained a spelling error led Border Force officers to conclude that he was seeking to evade immigration controls, was not really a student and that he had “little interest” in his course, according to documents seen by the Observer.

Khadka was subsequently transferred to an immigration removal centre in Scotland and told he would be deported. Even after the university’s admissions office provided documents proving he had a place on the course, and confirming that he had paid the course fees, as he had claimed, he was held for a further 10 days.

He was eventually released by the Home Office, which gave him an apology letter saying it had “carefully reviewed” his case and that an error had been made. But by the time it had realised its mistake, Khadka had missed the cut-off for enrolling in his university. When he arrived at his university campus in York on 24 October, he was told it was a week past the late enrolment deadline and that his sponsorship had been withdrawn so he would have to return next year. He is now in limbo, having borrowed thousands of pounds to cover flights, fees and relocation costs, and faces returning home in debt without a clear route to stay in the UK.

“I was treated like a criminal but I did nothing wrong. I couldn’t understand why he detained me. They gave me lots of reasons but I could justify every reason they gave me,” Khadka said. “I showed them my documents and they even called my university. I had all the papers, but they didn’t believe me. This will have a big effect on my future.”

Read More: Theguardian

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