Neha Chaudhry, a Pakistani national who has invented a device that has the potential to completely transform the lives of Parkinson's disease sufferers is facing deportation after having her Tier 1 Visa application refused. The refusal comes as a result of a failure to provide some company information on her application, though the rest of the application was filled out correctly. Officials have also refused to allow her to resubmit her application. The news is likely to be severely criticised as Chaudhry shows all of the prerequisites that would make her an excellent candidate. Chaudhry now faces a long and drawn out battle via the appeals process, yet again showing a lack of flexibility or sense in the way that the system is handled by bureaucrats.
Chaudhry's business, Walk To Beat, is a Bristol based business that has designed a "smart" walking stick that helps sufferers by sending electronic pulses to their hands. The idea for the stick came from watching her grandfather suffer from the debilitating medical condition in her native Pakistan. Whilst she may have to option of resubmitting, the 12-month ban that would be imposed by failure would make her overstay her visa. This would make her case almost certainly one that would be turned down.
The decision flies in the face of government stated initiatives to make the UK a global leader in technology. It also brings sharply into view the current issues at the Home Office and the heavy use of bureaucracy in the decision-making process. The Prime Minister has previously stated that she intended for the UK to become a "magnet" for international talent. It also shines a light on the potential future of immigration into the UK as the Home Office is bound to be inundated with visa applications in the near future with the looming spectre of Brexit in the background.
The Home Office has taken the decision to serve the inventor with a notice to leave the UK. A decision that seems on balance to be very short sighted considering the amount of good that could be done with her product and the amount of money that the product could contribute to the economy in taxes and employment. Stories like these will only add to the current anxiety about the UK's future relationship with immigration. The government has said a lot of good sounding sound bites on the issue, but any sort of meaningful change on the ground is sadly lacking.
Neha Chaudhry's future is in the balance, as is her company's. But with the UK desperately needing to attract such entrepreneurially minded people the decision to turn her away seems incredibly poor. It can only be hoped that the decision is overturned on appeal and that the inventor gets to continue her illustrious career here in the UK. Otherwise, the UK's loss could be another country's gain and in the long term that will only damage the UK.