Home secretary Priti Patel has agreed to look into the case of a Moray man who has been ordered to leave Scotland after living here for almost a decade.
Matt Freeman is originally from China but has lived in Lossiemouth for eight years, where he is a prominent campaigner for mental health in the community.
He was denied leave to remain in the UK after returning to China for a short time and faces being arrested if he does not leave Scotland.
Local MP Douglas Ross today, Monday, February 8, raised his case at Westminster and the home secretary said she would discuss the details of Mr Freeman’s case.
Mr Freeman said: “I have hope I will be allowed to stay and I am delighted that Priti Patel is going to look at my circumstances.
“Moray is my home, it is where I want to stay and I feel like the community here are my family. I am so grateful to all the people that have supported me in my efforts to remain here in Scotland.”
Mr Freeman, an engineer who has a PhD, went back to China in 2010 for a short time to work – UK authorities say as a result his time in Britain has not been continuous. He has been denied a right of appeal.
His friends in Moray said he will be cut off from all he knows and that it is a breach of his human rights.
The Home Office said all UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits.
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition urging officials to let Mr Freeman stay in Scotland.
Lossiemouth community councillor Carolle Ralph has championed Mr Freeman’s case.
She said: “I am delighted that Priti Patel will look at Matt’s situation and we look forward to a positive outcome. He is a really valued member of our community and we hope he can stay here. It is his home.”
Mr Freeman’s MP Douglas Ross said: “I am very pleased that the Home Secretary has agreed to meet with me to discuss Matt’s situation.
“He is big part of the community here in Moray and always wants to help others and contribute to the area.
“Matt has no immediate family in China so no reason to return, but he has a network of support here which has been important since he was diagnosed as bi-polar. I do worry that he may not have access to that same level of support if he goes back to China.”