As signers of this open letter, we are calling the Embassy of Ireland in Abu Dhabi to withdraw their discriminatory visa rejection decision that restricts an international researcher’s academic freedom and right to travel.
Mustafa Keshkeia, an instructor at Damascus University, applied for a student visa on 20.09.2021 to pursue his academic studies in Ireland after winning the prestigious PhD Scholarship with full coverage offered by the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies (SALIS), Dublin City University (DCU). He provided all the required documentation, including proof of his scholarship, his acceptance letter, financial support, and much more. However, his student visa application was rejected on 12.10.2021 for a number of discriminatory reasons by the Embassy of Ireland, Abu Dhabi. Mustafa appealed against the visa refusal and provided more documentation to support his application. Yet, his appeal was also rejected on 16.12.2021 based on another discriminatory reason:
OC: - Observe the conditions of the student visa - the visa sought is for a specific purpose and duration. The Appeals Officer has examined and considered all information and documentation submitted. You have not sufficiently satisfied the Appeals Officer that your primary objective is to pursue a course of studies, nor sufficiently satisfied the Appeals Officer there is economic opportunities in your country of origin that would encourage you to leave Ireland upon completion of your course of study.
We call on the Embassy of Ireland, Abu Dhabi to withdraw this decision that restricts an international researcher’s academic freedom and right to travel. It is a discriminatory prejudgement to reject the visa application intended for academic research by only refering to the economic opportunities in the applicant’s ‘country of origin’. Mustafa has already expressed and shown in his documents that he has no intention to stay in Ireland after he finishes his studies because, first, his accepted research project is about the ‘country of his origin’ and all the data collection will take place there. Second, he is leaving his beloved wife and three children there in his ‘country of origin’, and he already has a ‘life’ there. He already assured his family and Embassy that he will come back after completing his studies. Finally, Mustafa has been working as an instructor at Damascus University, and his plan is to return there and share his experiences and knowledge with his colleagues as a Doctor in the field of Crisis Translation.
In the words of Mustafa Keshkeia:
The refusal of my visa application made me believe that Visa Officers treated my application with a great deal of bias. And the justification is based only on my country of origin. They simply looked at one thing: where am I from, and disregarded any other factors, such as my academic background or my other achievements that led me to be awarded a prestigious scholarship by a renowned academic institution. Their only excuse was that they did not believe that I would go to Ireland to do research and study, and there is nothing in my homeland that would encourage me to leave Ireland after the completion of my studies.
We believe that this decision of the Embassy of Ireland in Abu Dhabi is highly troubling and limits the academic freedom and right to travel of international researchers, which undermine the scientific community, advancement of knowledge and efforts to support multinational communication. In our view, the visa decisions should be based on factual assessments of the documentation provided, rather than origins of the country.
In signing this letter, we repeat our call for urgent action from the Embassy of Ireland, Abu Dhabi to withdraw and reconsider its discriminatory decision that restricts an international researcher’s academic freedom and right to travel without any substantial reasons.