News & Views Monday 29th May to Sunday 4th June 2017  
15 Activists Who Prevented a Charter Flight Taking Off – Charged with Aggravated Trespass

They were arrested having stopped a charter flight that was due to take off from Stansted Airport on 28 March 2017. The charter flight contained individuals who were due to be deported to Ghana and Nigeria. The Stansted 15 have been charged with “aggravated trespass” in relation to their actions that night. They will be running a defence of “necessity” - that their actions were required to prevent those being removed from suffering serious injury or even death.

Background: Campaigners Halt ‘Deportation Flight’ by Blocking Stansted Runway and Locking Themselves to Plane

The Stansted 15 lawyers are keen to hear from anyone who attended or were involved in the protest, or  any individual that was on the flight that night or their representatives. 

Please contact Raj Chada (0207 874 8367 rchada@hja.net) or Brid Doherty (0207 874 8501) at Hodge Jones & Allen.
UK Wrong to Deny Residency Rights in Test Case

The Home Office was wrong to deny the Algerian husband of a dual British-Spanish citizen the right to live with her in the UK, according to the initial opinion of the European court of justice’s advocate general in a test case.

In the AG’s official “opinion”, Toufik Lounes does have the right to remain in the UK even though his wife, Perla Nerea García Ormazábal, became a British citizen in 2010 – a change in status that it had been claimed meant she lost the right she had previously enjoyed to bring her family to the UK.

The panel of 15 judges will hand down its final ruling on the matter this summer. The judgment will then be considered by a high court judge who referred the case to Europe last year.

The Home Office argued that the woman’s freedom of movement rights, which enable EU citizens to live with their family in any other state within the EU, fell away once she took citizenship. The advocate general, Yves Bot, agreed that this appeared to be the case under the European directive 2004/38 on freedom of movement, but found that García Ormazábal had legacy rights as an EU national.

Lisa O'Carroll, Independent, http://tiny.cc/z9fily
Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) COI Update Vol. 149

This document provides an update of UK Country Guidance case law, UK Home Office publications and developments in refugee producing countries (focusing on those which generate the most asylum seekers in the UK) between 16 May and 29 May 2017.

http://tiny.cc/digily

Grants of Asylum Year Ending March 2017

In the year ending March 2017, there were 9,634 grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection to main applicants and their dependants, and an additional 6,245 people newly provided with protection and support under a resettlement scheme the UK. Asylum applications in the UK from main applicants decreased by 17% to 28,891 in the year ending March 2017.

There were 3,680 asylum applications from Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) in the year ending March 2017, a 9% increase compared to the previous year (3,389). Overall, UASC applications represented 13% of all main applications for asylum. Of the 1,747 initial decisions relating to UASC made in the year ending March 2017, 38% were grants of asylum or another form of protection, and 40% were grants of temporary leave (UASC leave). UASC applicants that are refused will include those from countries where it is safe to return children to their families, as well as some applicants who were determined to be over 18 following an age assessment.

Of the 24,293 initial decisions on asylum applications from main applicants, 33% were grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection, compared to 40% in the previous year. A separate Home Office analysis shows that for the years 2012 to 2014, on average 36% of decisions were granted initially, but this proportion rose to 49% after appeal. There were 1,507 grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection to Syrian nationals at initial decision in the year ending March 2017 and an additional 5,453 Syrian nationals were granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). Since this scheme began in 2014, a total of 7,307 people have been resettled.

Three of the top 5 nationalities applying for asylum in the year ending March 2010 were still present in the top 5 in the year ending March 2017 (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan). Zimbabwe was ranked first for asylum applications in the year ending March 2010, but fell to 21st in the year ending March 2017. Iraq is now ranked third for asylum applications, up from the series low of 18th in the years ending March 2012 and 2013.
At the end of March 2017, a total of 39,365 people were receiving a cash allowance, somewhere to live, or both, in the UK (under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999). This number has increased from 35,683 at the end of March 2016. The total figure remains considerably below that for the end of 2003 (the start of the published data series), when there were 80,123 people in receipt of Section 95 support. Separately, at the end of March 2017, there were 3,821 people receiving support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

In addition to those asylum seekers who apply in the UK, resettlement schemes are offered to those who have been referred to the Home Office by The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). On 7 September 2015, an expansion to the existing Syrian VPRS was announced. Through this expansion, it was proposed that 20,000 Syrians in need of protection be resettled in the UK by 2020. A total of 7,307 people have been granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian VPRS since the scheme began, and in the year ending March 2017, 5,453 people were resettled under the Syrian VPRS across 235 different local authorities. Half (50%) of those resettled under the Syrian VPRS were under 18 years old (2,726), and around half (47%) were female (2,571).

Including dependants, the total number of asylum applications to the EU in the year ending March 2017 was an estimated 1,062,000, a decrease of 25% compared to the year ending March 2016 (1,410,000).

This is a Home Office Release: Published 25/05/2017, http://tiny.cc/tivdly


Fury Over £5.48 Immigration Email Charge

People outside the UK will be forced to pay £5.48 when they email the government agency UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) with an enquiry in a move that has stunned solicitors. UKVI, which is part of the Home Office, has announced that, from tomorrow01/06/2017, customer enquiries will be handled by a new commercial partner, Sitel UK. For customers applying from outside the UK, as well as having to pay £5.48 for an email, all phone numbers and opening hours will change. The number of available languages will be slashed from 20 to eight. There are no changes for people contacting UKVI from inside the UK.
UK Visas and Immigration said the changes 'help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution'. However, solicitor Christopher Cole, partner and head of immigration at Rotherham firm Parker Rhodes Hickmotts, told the Gazette the 'exorbitant' £5.48 charge is 'beyond belief'. The charge will include the first email inquiry and any follow-up emails to and from the contact centre relating to the same enquiry.

Read more: Law Gazette, http://tiny.cc/x0rily


Court of Appeal: Human Rights Cannot Be Raised In EEA Appeals

The Court of Appeal upheld decisions of both the First Tier and Upper Tribunal that human rights cannot form part of an EEA appeal (Amirteymour v SSHD, EWCA Civ 353). The applicant had applied for a residence card to confirm his derivative right to reside in the UK on the basis of his relationship with his daughter (a Zambrano application). The applicant sought to rely on human rights but did not make a distinct human rights application. The application for the residence card was refused but no removal directions were given.

The applicant appealed the refusal and again mentioned his human rights. A section 120 notice was served by the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) asking if there were any other grounds she should be aware of. No human rights arguments were explicitly made at that stage but they were again raised at the appeal. The judges throughout the appeal process found the human rights arguments could not form part of the EEA appeal.

The reasoning is that the right of appeal (under regulation 26(1)) is specifically a right of appeal against an EEA decision. The EEA appeal should focus on EEA law (note the ruling relates to cases where there are no removal directions in place). The regulation that gives the right of appeal does not create a general arena where arguments on immigration rules and human rights can be raised. Instead of an applicant being able to include human rights arguments as part of the EEA appeal they need to make a separate human rights application. The ruling means that there could then be two appeals, one for EEA law and one for human rights issues (except where prior notice is given to the SSHD through the s.120 process).

Read more: Gherson Immigration, http://tiny.cc/wt7jly

Deportation – January to March 2017

The proportion of detainees being returned or voluntarily departing the UK on leaving detention increased from 45% in year ending March 2016 to 48% in year ending March 2017.

The total number of enforced returns from the UK, including those not directly from detention, decreased by 4% to 12,666 in the year ending March 2017 compared with 13,248 in the previous year. This includes 10,969 enforced removals and 1,697 other returns from detention. In the same period, there were 24,786 voluntary returns (excluding returns from detention).

Of the 12,666 enforced returns in year ending March 2017, there were 2,352 enforced returns of people who had previously sought asylum, down 26% from the previous year (3,169).

In the year ending March 2017, provisional data show that 6,171 Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) were returned compared to 5,810 in the previous year (up 6%). This is the highest number since the series began in 2009 and reflects increasing use of other forms of FNO returns, including those where an offence was committed outside the UK.

Top 15 Countries Q1 2017 for Forced Removals – 9 of them European
Romania  496
Poland 342
Albania 339
Lithuania   203
Pakistan   197
India    194
Nigeria 107
China   95
Germany 85
Italy 84
Bangladesh 79
Latvia   70
Jamaica   64
France 56
Slovakia    40
A total of 2,451 of which 1,715 were to European Countries


Detention – January to March 2017

The number of people entering detention in year ending March 2017 decreased by 10% to 28,980 from 32,164 in the previous year. Over the same period there was an 11% decrease in those people leaving detention (from 32,640 to 28,897).

As at the end of March 2017, 2,930 people were in detention, similar to the number recorded at the end of March 2016 (2,925). As at 3 April 2017, there were 337 detainees held in prison establishments in England and Wales solely under immigration powers as set out in the Immigration Act 1971 or UK Borders Act 2007. 

Top 15 Nationalities Q1 2017 in Detention
India     316
Pakistan   256
Bangladesh 221
Nigeria     202
Poland    136
Albania 127
China   111
Afghanistan  105
Jamaica  105
Iraq  118
Vietnam  109
Ghana   74
Romania  60
Somalia 59
Sri Lanka  54