TWO innocent men treated as terror risks over tax return errors are celebrating victories over a controversial Home Office policy.

Mustafa Ali Baig and Omer Khitab told The National how corrections made over mistakes by accountants threatened to force them to leave their homes in Scotland.

READ MORE: What now for The National’s highly skilled migrants?

The Glasgow residents are amongst thousands of highly-skilled migrants who faced expulsion from the UK under immigration clause 322.5, which allows officials to deny residency to anyone with criminal convictions, terror links or “bad character”.

READ MORE: New figures ‘add to case’ for Scottish immigration powers

They include architects, teachers, doctors and more, with many hailing from Commonwealth countries like Pakistan, India and Nigeria.

READ MORE: New skills hub for migrants launched at Glasgow University

Originally from Pakistan, friends Mustafa and Omer have each spent 12 years in Scotland and consider this country their home. But the highly-qualified graduates feared the Home Office decision would force them from the country and end the lives they have built here.

The National:

Omer Khitab

Omer, 34, lost his right to work in the ordeal, which harmed his mental health and pushed him to consider suicide. After winning his case before a specialist judge, he is now planning to rebuild his IT career. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) graduate revealed how he wept with relief as the decision was confirmed, saying: “All the memories just flooded back and the tears started rolling.

“It’s hard to believe that that painful chapter is over. I so look forward to the next. I hope I will get my confidence back and will be a useful citizen. I will try to forget these two years as a horrible nightmare.”

Mustafa, a compliance and vetting officer who also attended UWS, told The National he had been penalised for his honesty after correcting the tax error. Though the wrong figures appeared on his paperwork, the full sum owed to the Inland Revenue had been paid.

He said he had been vindicated by the immigration tribunal’s decision, adding: “Everything is proven. What I told them was an innocent mistake has been upheld as such by the judge. I’m proud of the judiciary. They declared me an innocent man.”

Now planning to qualify as a solicitor, he said: “It will be a brilliant future here as a British citizen, after naturalisation.

“My case will help all the people who are either in judicial review or in appeals.”

Earlier this month, a judge branded the Home Office’s use of 322.5 for tax correction cases “nonsensical”.

A written ruling stated that “the mere fact that an applicant is responsible for his own tax affairs does not lead to the inexorable conclusion that an applicant has been dishonest”.

An official review into thousands of cases has been promised, but has not yet been published. Meanwhile, the Highly Skilled Migrant campaign group and MPs including Glasgow Central’s Alison Thewliss continue to press Home Secretary Sajid Javid for answers and the situation has been compared to the Windrush scandal.

Saad Balouch of Clyde Solicitors, who acted for both Omer and Mustafa, will now press the Home Office to enforce the legal rulings and grant indefinite leave to remain. He said the men had “gone through hellfire”,telling The National: “The allegations were based on mere assumptions and speculation.”

He went on: “After arrival in UK, they considered the British people as their family members and Home Office and UK Government as their guardian. They therefore should have been treated as fairly as one can treat a family member.”

Welcoming the news, Thewliss, who represents both men, said: “I wish both of my constituents all the best for their future, but I know of several more who are still waiting for a decision, along with many others around the UK. The Home Secretary has yet to reply to my letters asking for his intervention in these cases, nor has he delivered on the investigation he promised months ago.

“I will continue to fight for answers and for justice for all of those highly skilled migrants wrongly accused under 322.5 of the immigration rules. Those who found themselves caught up in the UK Government’s Windrush debacle are entitled to compensation. Highly skilled migrants involved in this latest UK Home Office scandal should also receive recompense for the length of time they have been unable to work, and for the legal fees they have racked up fighting this injustice.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: "All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules. We do not routinely comment on individual cases."