By Sophie Gregory
This piece is being updated periodically as new information comes to light.
The Home Office has temporarily halted proceedings that aimed to deport the Durham academics Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marín and his wife Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago, Palatinate can reveal.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson said “Following a review of the initial decision, Dr Schwartz-Marin has been informed that his application and that of his wife Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago for Indefinite Leave to Remain, has been approved.”
Speaking exclusively to Palatinate, Dr Schartz-Marín said: “It’s a great relief for the moment. We are now temporarily safe and we know that no one is going to throw us out of our house.”
He added, “We will need to fight a legal battle, to get the appeal underway and pursue other legal avenues. It’s a time sensitive issue.”
He went on to thank everyone in Durham for their time and established that “the first £15,000 raised will help to pay my legal fees and all that’s being raised now will help those also in struggles with the Home Office.”
Vice-President of Durham University and College Union (UCU), Marek Szablewski, told Palatinate: “Obviously we are delighted and hope that this ultimately helps others in similar positions.”
The two academics had failed in their visa renewal request because they had spent too long out of the country conducting humanitarian fieldwork. Their work took place in Mexico, working with victims of gang related violence and building a DNA database to help locate the missing.
They had spent 270 outside of the country undertaking this work.
Under Tier 2 visa guidelines, non-EU migrants in the UK cannot spend more than 180 days outside the country, unless they are “attending to a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis”.
Dr Schwartz-Marín claims that because the Mexican war on drugs has cost an estimated 160,000 lives and caused 30,000 disappearances over the last decade, their work was assisting in a humanitarian crisis.
Both academics and their 11-year-old daughter were initially given two weeks to leave the UK.
Photograph: Jon Bryan via Durham UCU