Man faces being deported to China after two decades living in Scotland

Moray locals rally round Matt Freeman, who is locked in his second battle with the Home Office in three years.

A man fighting to stay in Moray after the Home Office ruled he must return to China says being forced to leave the country would be against his human rights.

Matt Freeman, 50, has lived in Scotland for nearly 20 years but could be forced to leave the UK.

The engineering graduate and mental health campaigner grew up in China but now has no connections to the land of his birth.

It’s the second time he has faced deportation in three years after winning a previous battle with immigration bosses in 2021.

He said: “Our local community have welcomed me here. Everyone is very nice, this is my home.

“When I received the decision I was very angry – it is not a human decision, it is a machine decision.”

He has been living in Scotland on a work visa but applications he has made for permanent leave to remain have been rejected since 2013.

The Home Office told Matt that his visit to China to work for a few months in 2011 meant his 20-year stay in the UK had not been continuous. He was denied his right of appeal.

He has launched a petition to the UK Parliament and the Home Office try to strengthen his case which has gained more than 15,000 signatures.

“If I go back to China I will be silenced, I will not be allowed to say what I want to say,” he said.

“This is my human rights. I have been here 20 years.”

Matt, who has been living in Moray since 2012, is a valued member of the community there.

Friends in Moray said they’re doing their best to help.

Lossiemouth Community Council chair Carolle Ralph said: “The bureaucracy in the Home Office is very difficult, it is so complicated.

“A group of us have got together locally to try to help Matt and cut through the red tape and this will hopefully mean Matt will not have to fight the barriers he is facing now.”

Matt is also being supported by local MPs and MSPs who have approached the Home Office on his behalf.

They said they’ll continued to explore all avenues to try to find a solution to allow him to remain in the country.

The Home Office said: “All applications for indefinite leave to remain are carefully considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the Immigration Rules.”

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