Government Scraps Immigration “Streaming Tool” Before Judicial Review
In response to a legal challenge brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), the Home Office has scrapped an algorithm used for sorting visa applications. Represented by Foxglove, a legal non-profit specialising in data privacy law, JCWI launched judicial review proceedings,, arguing that the algorithmic tool was unlawful on the grounds that it was discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010 and irrational under common law.
In a letter to Foxglove from 3rd August on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD), the Government Legal Department stated that it would stop using the algorithm, known as the “streaming tool”, “pending a redesign of the process and way in which visa applications are allocated for decision making”. The Department denied that the tool was discriminatory. During the redesign, visa application decisions would be made “by reference to person-centric attributes… and nationality will not be taken into account”.
The “streaming tool” was an algorithmic system designed to categorise visa applications with reference to how much scrutiny each application needed. It would assign an application a red, amber, or green rating: red indicated that the application’s case worker ought to spend more time applying scrutiny, and would have to justify approving the application to a more senior officer. Applications with a red rating were much less likely to be successful than those rated green, with around 99.5% of green being successful but only 48.59% of red.
Read More: Rafe Jennings, UK Human Rights Blog, https://is.gd/OS5RqB
Romanian Grandmother Wins Appeal Against Extradition for Shoplifting
A Romanian national has succeeded in appealing an extradition order that would have seen her returned to Romania to serve a 13-month prison sentence for a conviction of aggravated theft. The appellant, referred to as DV, argued that her rights under article 8 of the ECHR would be breached by extradition, due to the fact that her youngest child had given birth to a baby daughter, to whom DV was in effect the primary carer, in the middle of extradition proceedings.The appellant was convicted of aggravated theft in a court in Bucharest in 2017. The theft was committed in November 2014 when she stole several food products from a mall store in Napoca, Romania. The appellant had a criminal record in several different countries for analogous offending, including in Scotland.
Examining the offence for which the appellant was to be extradited, Lord Brodie. said: “What we have in the present case is a conviction for shoplifting of some items from a food store a number of years ago which attracted a custodial sentence of 13 months. If anything, the trivial nature of this offence points away from extradition.
On the appellant’s arguments regarding her children, he said: “The crisis which arose when the thirteen-year-old CV gave birth to AV, would appear to have been satisfactorily managed by the appellant taking on the role of principal carer of AV while continuing to look after CV. To withdraw the childcare provided by the appellant would amount to an interference with the children’s article 8 rights in a way which will inevitably be damaging and probably very damaging. To imperil the chances of two children growing up into well-functioning adults by extraditing their primary carer at what are critical stages in their respective lives because of a conviction for shoplifting is, in our opinion, clearly disproportionate.” For these reasons, the appeal against extradition was allowed.
Read the full press release: Scottish Legal News, https://is.gd/zmX2jo
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - August 2020
Deteriorated Situations: Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Iraq, Tunisia
Conflict Risk Alerts: Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Yemen, Libya. - Improved Situations:None
Global Overview August 2020: In Ethiopia, the killing of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa sparked a wave of protests, which left over 200 dead. In Sudan, the government struggled to advance the transitional agenda amid continuing delays in finalising a peace accord with rebel groups and escalating deadly violence in Darfur. In South Sudan, intercommunal violence surged in the east, while the partnership between President Salva Kiir and VP Riek Machar suffered setbacks. In Mali, clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in the capital Bamako killed at least 14 people.
Looking ahead to August, CrisisWatch warns of three conflict risks. In Libya, Egypt took preparatory steps toward a direct military intervention, which could escalate the war dramatically, while heavy clashes in Yemen’s north between the government and the Huthis could intensify. In Nagorno-Karabakh, deadly border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July – the severest escalation since 2016 – could spark another flare-up absent strong communication between Yerevan and Baku.
Read more: Crisis Watch, https://is.gd/JVNDCr
Free Visa Extensions For Healthcare Workers During COVID-19
The Home Office have released a policy to allow certain health workers to automatically extend their visas for a period of one year. This is available to health workers who work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider (in an eligible profession) whose visas are due to expire between 31 March 2020 and 1 October 2020. The extension will apply from the date the migrant’s visa is due to expire.
It will also be possible for dependent family members of qualifying health workers to extend their visas for a further year, in line with the main applicant. The one-year extension will be free and no application fees will be charged.
For those healthcare migrants whose leave expires after 31 October 2020, an application to extend leave to remain must be made as usual, for which the relevant Home Office fees will be payable.
If you believe that you or your family member may fall within the concession for health workers, please do contact us and we would be happy to advise you on the process of extending your leave.
Posted by: Gherson Immigration, https://is.gd/ER3tFg
Charter Flights (Escorts and Removals) Q2 April/May/June 2020
1. Number of males removed - 268
2. Number of females removed - 17
3. Number of escorts - 374
4. Number of flights in total - 7
5. Number flights to each country / number removed to each country
No children were removed
Poland - Number of flights 1 Number removed 33
Albania - Number of flights 2 Number removed 97
Romania - Number of flights 3 Number removed 151
Lithuania- Number of flights 1 Number removed 4
Total cost of Home Office charter flights for April/May/June 2020 was £1,105,931.02
Upper Tribunal Ruling on Discretion to Reunite Refugee Families Under Dublin III
In R (BAA & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dublin III: judicial review; SoS’s duties)  UKUT 227 (IAC), the Upper Tribunal takes the opportunity to review Article 17 of the Dublin III Regulation, which provides a general human rights-based discretion for the UK to take responsibility for an asylum claim lodged in another EU country. The Dublin III system is not long for this world so far as Brexit Britain is concerned, so we’ll leave the extensive official headnote to speak for itself:
(1) Article 17(2) of Regulation 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (“Dublin III”) confers a discretion on a Member State to examine an application for international protection “in order to bring together any family relations, on humanitarian grounds, based on family or cultural considerations”. Although the discretion is wide, it is not untrammelled: R (HA & others) (Dublin III; Articles 9 and 17.2)  UKUT 297 (IAC). As in the case of any other discretionary power of the Secretary of State in the immigration field, Article 17(2) must be exercised in an individual’s favour, where to do otherwise would breach the individual’s human rights (or those of some other person), contrary to section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/BhSULn
There’s Actually No Right to Family Life in the UK
Everyone in the UK has the right to respect for their family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But as a migrant from outside the European Economic Area, what do you actually need in order to be able to stay in the UK on the basis of your family life? Basic ingredients of an Article 8 case: First, you need a family member who is a British citizen, or settled in the UK or who has refugee status / humanitarian protection. This post will focus on family members of British citizens. That British family member generally needs to be a partner or a child under the age of 18. Family life is only recognised between other family members, such as a parent and an adult child or between adult siblings, if there are more than normal emotional ties.
You could be forgiven for assuming that is all you need. You have family in the UK, so requiring you to leave the UK would breach your Article 8 right to family life. It’s not so simple. You also need to show that you could not enjoy your family life elsewhere. There is no right to enjoy your family life in the UK. Your British partner or child may well wish to stay in the UK and, as citizens, they are entitled to do so. However, in order for you to stay in the UK with them, you need to show you could not live as a family elsewhere.
Read more: Freemovement,, https://is.gd/QOPCAE
Huge Increase in 'No Recourse. to Public Funds Applications
The number of migrants applying to lift their visa condition of “no recourse to public funds” in order to access the welfare safety net has surged during the pandemic, new Home Office data shows. There were almost 5,700 applications to have the NRPF condition lifted in April, May and June 2020, compared to 914 in the same quarter last year — a 520% increase. Around 90% of the applications decided on in that period were granted, although around half were still pending at the end of the quarter.
Coronavirus and the accompanying economic crash have thrown many people out of work, and migrants with NRPF can’t fall back on the welfare system unless they apply to the Home Office with evidence of destitution. The Migration Observatory at Oxford University wrote last month that the crisis “has put many migrants with NRPF, particularly those in precarious types of employment, in a vulnerable position”. The Home Office relaxed its policy on when NRPF can be lifted at the end of May 2020 following a legal challenge. This may also have contributed to the spike: applications that would previously have been hopeless are now worth pursuing under the revised policy. The department has released these (provisional) application figures instead of estimating the overall number of people with NRPF, arguing that they provide a better gauge of potential hardship caused by the policy. There could be well over a million people with NRPF in total, but most will not be in financial difficulty, again according to the Migration Observatory.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/DSse9t
General Grounds for Refusal: Owing a Debt to the NHS
Ever since 2013, the government has had a Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme. “The programme’s overarching objective“, according to the Department of Health, “is to improve cost recovery and ensure that the NHS receives a fair contribution for the cost of the healthcare it provides to non-UK residents”. The Immigration Act 2014 and the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015 introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge and allowed NHS trusts in England to charge overseas visitors up to 150% for treatments in secondary care. The charging regulations were expanded in October 2017, forcing community services to also charge migrants and making provision for NHS trusts to request advance payments for non-urgent care. The objective of the plan, though, is not limited to increasing the income of the NHS. It is part of a broader plan to create a “hostile environment” for those without the right to stay in the UK, and thereby supposedly to reduce the number of migrants coming or staying in the UK. Unsurprisingly, therefore, owing a debt to the NHS is a ground for refusing applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK.
Read more: Freemovement, https://is.gd/6k5Evu