‘Barmy’ visa laws set to deport Notts lecturer after 7 years at uni

She has a one-year-old son


A high-flying academic is to be booted out of Britain under “barmy” new visa laws – because she is out of the country more than 180 days a year.

Dr Miwa Hirono, 38, who travels the world as a Government adviser, has been living in the UK since becoming a lecturer at the University of Nottingham seven years ago.

The world-renowned academic’s work – which helps the UK Government to set foreign policy – requires her to spend long spells working in China and Africa.

In 2009 and 2010 she spent around 200 days abroad researching China’s foreign peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

But Home Office immigration laws now say people working on a migrant visa cannot be out of the country for more than 180 days each year.

And despite the fact Dr Hirono, who is originally from Japan, does research for a Government-funded organisation and her baby son was born in Britain, the Home Office has decided to deport her.

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Her university colleagues have slammed the decision as “vindictive and bone-headed” but the Home Office has refused to back down.

Dr Hirono, who lives in Beeston, with her husband Peter Trebilco, 61, and their one-year-old son Tada, said: “It came as a massive, utter shock.

“My Australian husband quit his job to join me in the UK as a family. I bought a house in Beeston two years ago and gave birth to my son here.

“I have my life here, everything is here but I have to give up everything.

“It is idiocy. The Government funded my research and now they are penalising me for hard work and contributing to their policies.

“What has happened to me is absolutely wrong and everyone understands my point except the Home Office.

“In the past I have been saying to my colleagues overseas that this is a wonderful place to work but now I am telling them not to come because your life can be severed all of a sudden.

“I thought this was a democratic country with natural justice but it doesn’t seem that way.”

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Dr Hirono, an expert in international relations, has decided not to appeal the decision because the cost of the process would make it “impractical”.

Instead she has taken a job at a university in Kyoto, Japan, and the family are leaving the UK on March 29.

Her husband Peter said the Home Office decision has caused the family to uproot their whole life.

He added: “It tears at your heart because we’ve gone to great lengths to make good friends in the neighbourhood and we’re very supportive and contribute to the community.

“We’re having to tear our son out of nursery, give up a home we’ve established, with neighbours we’re very fond of, and none of that is our doing.

“It’s an inflexibility – the law does not have the capacity to deal with individual situations. It’s our whole life.

“The amount of support that we’ve had from the community here in Nottingham has been phenomenal.”

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Dr Hirono came to the University of Nottingham in 2008 on a prestigious five-year Research Council UK fellowship, which then became a permanent role.

But when applying to extend her visa last March, she was banned and told she would be deported because of the foreign travel aspect of her job.

University bosses even wrote to the Home Office to tell officials that the trips were part of her job.

In December, Dr Hirono won an appeal against the Home Office with a judge suggesting it would not be in the national interest to deport someone who had “made a significant and profound contribution to the academic framework of higher education in this country”.

But that ruling was later overturned and immigration bosses confiscated the family’s passports a year ago.

Professor Mathew Humphrey said Dr Hirono’s research had had a significant impact on policy towards China, including on the UK’s co-operation programme with the country.

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Dr Hirono’s local MP, Anna Soubry, even wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to consider the decision, but no action was taken.

The Tory MP said: “I know there are difficulties with the rules and she has breached them but my own view is she is the sort of worker that we absolutely want to keep at the university.”

A Home Office spokesperson said all applications were considered on their individual merits in line with immigration rules.

They added: “Ms Hirono’s application for indefinite leave to remain was refused in July 2014 because she had spent more than 180 days outside the UK.”