INCOMPETENCE at the Home Office was displayed again yesterday after an American academic who has been in Scotland for eight years told how she was given two weeks to leave – because of a Home Office mistake from over a year ago.

Dr Elizabeth Ford came to Scotland in September 2011 to study for a PhD in Scottish music at the University of Glasgow.

Since then she completed her PhD, made a name for herself in music, research and writing circles, and represented Scotland at events.

The 38-year-old applied for an extension of her leave to remain here but was rejected as she had been granted the status “incorrectly” last year.

However, Stuart McDonald, the opposition SNP spokesperson on immigration, asylum and border control, said the decision defied common decency.

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He told The National: “This looks like yet another example of totally inhumane decision-making by the Home Office.

“How can a department seriously ask someone to give up their life here – never mind at two weeks’ notice – simply because of a mistake that same department made a year ago?

“Decisions of this nature defy common sense and common decency.”

Ford, who lives with her partner in Battlefield, Glasgow, said she arrived here on a Tier 5 Charity Worker visa and had remained on that and a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa, sponsored by Katherine McGillivray’s Get a Life fund for musicians.

She was representing Scotland at a conference last week when news of the refusal was emailed to her.

“I applied to renew it in June because I have a fellowship coming up at Oxford and I thought that renewing the one I had would be simpler than trying to get a new one through Oxford,” said Ford.

“I was wrong. On Thursday I was at a conference and saw an email from the Home Office and they refused it because of an error which apparently happened at their end last year.

“They said that leave to remain had previously been granted erroneously so because of that they’re not going to give it to me this year. Because of that I had 14 days to get out of the country or figure out how to fix it.”

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The Home Office suggestions for “fixing” it included applying for administrative review of their decision – however, Ford said she did not have much faith in the “dysfunctional” review process.

“It’s also very offensive,” she said. “You will be removed – it’s like you are some sort of stain or unwanted object and it’s very dehumanising.

“They should look at people’s individual circumstances and not just the regulations. I didn’t show up on a boat trying to take advantage of free healthcare. I came here to study the cultural history of Scotland and I just wrote a book on it.

“I’m still here impoverishing myself because I’m not allowed to earn income but I’m willing to … make the most of the opportunities that are in Scotland, knowing that eventually it will lead to a job somewhere.”

Ford added: “I know that I would have a place in an independent Scotland, and this is a vision I support, although I am not allowed to vote.

“I don’t think any historian of 18th-century Scotland could not support independence.”

The Home Office admitted the error but said it had honoured the decision.

A spokesperson added: “All cases are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the immigration rules, and are based on evidence available.

“The Tier 5 Charity Worker visa to which the applicant applied is capped at 12 months.”