A STUDENT who gained a place at Oxford University but fears the government will deport him received support of almost 75,000 people yesterday through a petition.
Brian White grew up in a Zimbabwean orphanage until he was six. He was adopted in Botswana by a family from the West Midlands and has lived in Wolverhampton since he was 15.
His offer to study chemistry is in jeopardy after being given limited leave to remain by the Home Office. His supporters say he should have been given indefinite leave to remain at 15.
The offer for Mr White to study chemistry at Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall is due to expire this month, having already deferred the course for one year.
It was only when he tried to take up his place at Oxford that he found he was ineligible to receive student finance because a previous naturalisation application by his parents had been rejected. If unsuccessful, he believes he could face deportation to Zimbabwe.
Mr White said: “I haven’t been there in seven or eight years, I don’t know anybody there. I don’t have any connections … [this has] put a big question mark over my future.”
The Home Office said that the application could be processed by November, but this is an “arbitrary” timeline and no guarantees were made, local Labour MP Eleanor Smith told the Star.
The MP for Wolverhampton South West said: “Oxford is willing to hold his space and is very understanding about the situation … they have spotted a talent.
“Brian is the first Highfields School student to get into Oxford. He is the jewel in their crown. Other pupils and their parents are also right behind him.
“But we do not know one way or the other how it will pan out.”
Mr White’s school friend Luke Wilcox launched the change.org petition last week. He said: “It’s common sense to allow him to stay. So many people have said the situation is crazy.
“He’s a great friend and is going to be big asset to this country, studying and working. We want the Home Office to show some heart and compassion and make the right decision.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We understand the urgency of Mr White’s case and have contacted him to reassure him that we are looking to resolve his application as soon as possible.”