News & Views Monday 14th August to Sunday 20th August 2017  
Home Office Issues New Guidance on Minimum Income Requirement

The Home Office has finally issued guidance following the Supreme Court’s decision in MM(Lebanon) & Ors v SSHD [2017] UKSC 10, some six months after judgment was first handed down. MM(Lebanon) was the lead case on the lawfulness of the minimum income requirement of £18,600, which was brought in for partner and child applications, following the introduction of Appendix FM on 9 July 2012. After some four years, the case was heard by the Supreme Court in February 2016, with judgment handed down a year later on 22 February 2017. The Supreme Court found that the minimum income requirement was not unlawful per se, but that the Secretary of State for the Home Department (“SSHD”) were required to properly take into account the best interests of children involved in such applications and other possible sources of income and financial support.

Shortly before the summer recess, on 20 July, the immigration minister announced a new statement of changes (HC 290), the purpose of which was to give effect to the decision in MM(Lebanon). The statement inserted amendments to Immigration Rules (“the Rules”): the General Requirements (in particular GEN.3.1 – 3.3) and a new Paragraph 21A to Appendix FM. However no guidance was issued on how the SSHD would apply the new requirements until 10 August 2017. This guidance applies to all decisions made on or after 10 August. The guidance reflects a two-stage approach. First, the decision maker must consider whether the applicant meets the Rules without consideration of exceptional circumstances under GEN.3.2. If they do, then leave is to be granted. If they do not, then leave will be considered under the 10 year route. The decision maker will then only go on to consider other credible and reliable sources of financial support or funds if refusal of the application could result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the applicant, partner or relevant child as set out under GEN.3.1. In effect, Appendix FM now brings under the auspices of the Rules the SSHD’s full Article 8 considerations.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Fairer Immigration System Needed for Young People Who Have Grown Up in the UK

There are currently thousands of young people living in the UK who are both denied justice and prevented from fully contributing to the country they call home. Thousands will have grown up in the UK, been educated here, and think of themselves as British but are 'undocumented': living here without regular immigration status.

Five years ago, the University of Oxford estimated that there were 120,000 undocumented children in the UK, 65,000 of whom were born here. A person who is undocumented cannot work, cannot access mainstream benefits, cannot open a bank account, or hold a driving licence. Children are often shielded from the harshest consequences of not having regular status, but as they grow up, they become more aware of the limits imposed by their lack of papers. What may start as making excuses for not being able to go on school trips develops into not being able to go to college or university.

Coram Children's Legal Centre's recent report, 'This is my home', found that since 2012 fewer than 15% of the estimated number of undocumented children have been able to regularise their status. The system is complex, fees are high, and there is no free legal advice and support. Being born in the UK does not automatically make you British and the challenges in making immigration applications push more people into undocumented status every year.

Read more: Kamena Dorling, Huffington Post,

Black Workers in UK Paid Less Than White Colleagues With Equal Qualifications

Black workers do not get paid as much as their white colleagues with the same qualifications, it has been suggested. Among those with A-levels, black workers earn about 10 per cent less than those who are white, missing out on around £1.20 an hour on average, according to an analysis by the TUC. Those with degrees face a 14 per cent pay gap – about £2.63 less per hour. Black employees – those from Black, African, Caribbean or Black British backgrounds – with higher education certificates and diplomas are paid around 20 per cent less, equivalent to about £2.98 an hour. In addition, black school leavers with GCSE grades of C or above take home about 12 per cent less than their white classmates, while those with no qualifications face a 5 per cent shortfall. Regardless of qualifications, black workers earn around 8.3 per cent less – an average of around £1.15 an hour – than white workers, the TUC calculated.

Read more: Alison Kershaw, Independent,

Legal Limbo Faced by Asylum Seekers Requiring Mental Health Support

Many migrants with no status that have fled their country of origin due to torture, violence and/or the fear of persecution will escape to countries which are globally perceived as havens of justice, equality and liberty. One such example of these perceived ‘havens’ is the U.K. However the experiences of these vulnerable individuals when they arrive in this country, many of whom have developed mental health issues as a result of their experiences, tell a different story.

The sad reality is that these individuals are often passed between different governmental departments with incompatible objectives. The inconsistent views of various departments often leave these vulnerable individuals in administrative limbo, which in turn can have a profound impact on their already strained mental health. This article in particular reviews the plight of migrants with no status who are suffering from mental health issues and their treatment by the U.K government upon arrival.

Immigration law stipulates that persons with a ‘serious mental illness which cannot be satisfactorily managed within detention’ should be detained ‘only in very exceptional circumstances’. It further stipulates that the more suitable alternative to detention in an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) should be a transfer to a mental health hospital, where the risks can be appropriately managed.

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

Trump Ends Immigration Scheme to Help Vulnerable Children

The Trump administration has cancelled an immigration assistance scheme established to help some of the world’s most imperiled children - a move activists say will lead to “suffering and death” for vulnerable youngsters. The programme was established in 2014 and provided a safe-entry for children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador whose parents were already living legally in the US. It took note of the unique threat to the children in these countries from organised gangs, and the fact that tens of thousands of children were fleeing their homes and trying to make it northwards by themselves.  Now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced it is terminating the scheme, following Donald Trump’s executive order cracking down on immigration signed in January

. Read more: Independent,

Gay Rights Activist Wins 13-Year Legal Battle to be Granted Asylum

A Nigerian gay rights activist who was told by a judge that she was faking her sexuality has won a 13-year battle to be granted asylum in the UK. Aderonke Apata feared being killed or imprisoned if she returned home, but her application for asylum was rejected for a second time in 2015 after the judge said he did not believe she was a lesbian. Her cause gained widespread support when it was revealed that, in an act of desperation, she sent a private video to the judge as evidence of her sexuality.

As a result, multiple petitions in support of Ms Apata’s asylum bid were created, gaining hundreds of thousands of signatures between them. The “Asylum for Aderonke” Facebook page, run by supporters, has now been updated to say her application had been successful and “she has been granted refugee status”. It thanked those who helped her cause, including her legal team, her family, and, among others, well known equality campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Read more: Jack Ashton,

Concerns' About Deteriorating Humanitarian Conditions in Gaza

11 August 2017 – The United Nations human rights office today expressed deep concern about the steadily deteriorating humanitarian and human rights conditions in Gaza, especially the restrictions on the enclave's power supply. “At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours,” Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR), told the regular media briefing in Geneva. “This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services,” she added, noting that power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care. The lack of transparency in the use of resources, and the continuing suppression of freedom of speech and assembly by the authorities raise further concerns for the protection of fundamental rights of the population in the occupied Palestinian enclave, the spokesperson noted. “Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza,” she said, urging them to uphold their human rights.

Read more: UN News,