News & Views Monday 26th February to Sunday 4th March 2018  

Immigration Officials Continue to Seek NHS England Patient Data

Ministers have rejected a call from MPs to immediately suspend the disclosure of confidential NHS patient data to the Home Office to trace potential immigration offenders despite evidence it is deterring migrants in England from seeking medical help. A joint letter from Home Office and health ministers to the chair of the Commons health select committee discloses that 1,297 requests for non-clinical details of patients, including home addresses, were made in the past three months by immigration officials trying to trace individuals with whom they had lost contact.

The letter from the immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, and the health minister, James O’Shaughnessy, accuses MPs on the committee of not giving “due weight” to the effective enforcement of Britain’s immigration laws when they called in January for the immediate suspension of the practice. Dr Sarah Wollaston, the health committee chair, called for the suspension of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Home Office and NHS Digital after hearing evidence from doctors and patient groups that undocumented migrants, including pregnant women, were too afraid to go to a doctor for fear their details would be passed to immigration enforcement.

Read more: Alan Travis, Guardian,

UN Committee Against Torture Issues New Guidelines on Asylum Seekers’ Rights

The new document addresses governments’ implementation of an article under the Convention against Torture that deals with non-refoulement – a ban on expelling, returning (“refouling”) or extraditing a person to another State where he or she could face torture, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The new document helps the Committee against Torture give guidance to States, and also helps Governments assess whether an asylum seeker faces a personal risk of torture or ill-treatment in his or her country of origin, if returned. It provides a checklist, which among other things, asks Government authorities to keep in mind that torture victims and other vulnerable persons frequently suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The list could also help people at risk of being sent back, by assisting them in making their claims before the national authorities,” said Committee Chair Jens Modvig. The checklist was updated in response to the migration crisis and the consequential increase in complaints from people alleging they risked torture or other ill-treatment if forcibly removed from their countries of asylum to their countries of origin. The 10-member expert Committee monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties.

The full document is available here.
Grants of Asylum 2017

In 2017, there were 14,767 grants of asylum, alternative forms of protection and resettlement, compared with 15,156 in the previous year. This comprised:
  • 7,469 grants of asylum to main applicants and dependants (down 11%)
  • 1,086 grants of alternative form of protection to main applicants and their dependants (down 29%)
  • 6,212 people provided with protection under a resettlement scheme (up 19%)
Of the 14,767 people granted asylum, protection and resettlement, 5,866 were children (under 18 years old). Additionally, 5,218 Family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, a 14% decrease since last year. Of these, 2,677 were issued to children.

The number of asylum applications in the UK from main applicants decreased by 14% to 26,350 in 2017. The number of asylum applications in the UK has been lower for two consecutive years, following a steady increase in the number of applications that coincided with the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. There were 845 grants of asylum or alternative forms of protection to Syrian nationals (including dependants) at initial decision in 2017.

A total of 6,212 people were resettled in the UK in 2017 under various schemes. This included 4,832 Syrian nationals who were provided protection under the VPRS, making a total of 10,538 Syrians provided protection since the scheme began in 2014.

Asylum applications and Initial Decisions

In 2017, the number of applications for asylum in the UK (main applicants only) was 26,350, a fall of 14% compared with the previous year. This is a fall for the second consecutive year following a year-on-year increase coinciding with the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Of the 21,290 initial decisions on asylum applications from main applicants, 32% were grants of asylum or an alternative form of protection, compared to 34% in the previous year. Including dependants, the number of people granted asylum or another form of protection (such as humanitarian protection or discretionary leave) in 2017 was 8,555. Of these, 2,774 were children (under 18 years old).

The largest number of asylum applications in 2017 came from Iranian nationals (2,569 applications), followed by nationals from Pakistan (2,483) and Iraq (2,366). Of the 5 nationalities with the highest number of applications, 4 saw falls compared with the previous year, and 1 (Sudan) saw an increase.

The number of applications from Syrian nationals was 55% lower than in 2016 (from 1,376 to 617). However, there was an 11% increase in the number of Syrian nationals being granted protection in the UK through other means such as the VPRS (from 4,369 to 4,832).

Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children

A UASC is a person under 18 years old, or in the absence of documentary evidence establishing age appears to be under 18, with no relative or guardian in the UK who is applying for asylum in his or her own right. There were 2,206 asylum applications from UASC in 2017, a 33% decrease compared to the previous year.
The largest numbers of asylum applications from UASC were from Sudanese and Eritrean nationals, together accounting for 30% of all UASC applications. This was followed by Vietnamese nationals (12%) and Albanian nationals (11%)
Of the 1,998 initial decisions relating to UASC made in 2017, 1,154 (58%) were grants of asylum or another form of protection, and an additional 378 (19%) were grants of temporary leave (UASC leave). A further 23% of UASC applicants were refused. This will include those from countries where it is safe to return children to their families, as well as applicants who were determined to be over 18 following an age assessment.

Support Provided to Asylum Seekers

Section 95 support is provided to destitute asylum seekers until their claim is finally determined. Section 95 support can be provided as either accommodation or subsistence, or both. An individual may be eligible for Section 4 support if their asylum application has been determined as refused and appeals rights are exhausted, but they are destitute and there are reasons that temporarily prevent them from leaving the UK.

At the end of December 2017, a total of 40,736 people in the UK were in receipt of support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This number is 3% higher than in the previous year. The total figure remains considerably below that for the end of December 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 December 2017, there were 4,114 people receiving support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, a 9% increase from the previous year.


In addition to those who are granted asylum in the UK, resettlement schemes are offered to those who have been referred to the Home Office by The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
In 2017, a total of 6,212 people were resettled in the UK under various resettlement schemes, consisting of:
  • 4,832 under the VPRS
  • 539 under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS)
  • 813 under the Gateway Protection Programme
  • 28 under the Mandate Scheme
Provisional data show that of those resettled in the UK in 2017, 3,092 were children (under 18 years old), an increase of 21% on the previous year. On 7 September 2015, an expansion to the existing 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 10,538 people have been resettled under the VPRS since the scheme began. In 2017, 4,832 people were resettled under the VPRS across 234 different local authorities, 2,405 of these were children.

Family Reunion Visas

A Family reunion visa allows a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18 of those granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK to reunite with them in the UK. Family reunion visas are a subset of the ‘Family: other’ visa category. Around 99% of ‘Family: other’ visa grants, as published in the visa tables, relate to Family reunion visas. However, data on Family reunion visas come from a different system to other visa data so are not directly comparable. In 2017, 5,218 Family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection. Of these, 2,677 were children (aged under 18).

Applying to Visit the United Kingdom: 5 Common Questions

Whether it is for business, tourism, or to visit family, the United Kingdom is a popular destination for visitors. If you or someone you know is planning to visit the UK, it is wise to understand what a visitor is permitted to and limited by, before entering the country.

The Immigration Rules are constantly changing. They contain several requirements and restrictions specific to those wishing to obtain a visit visa. In this briefing we will attempt to address the five most common questions we are asked about applying for a visit visa.

Read more: McGill & Co,

Early Day Motion 1000: Support For Victims Of Modern Slavery

That this House notes the lack of long-term support offered to victims of modern slavery; recognises the risk of victims being re-trafficked if they do not have a secure pathway to adequate levels of support, including a period of leave to remain; regrets the missed opportunities to convict more perpetrators of modern slavery crimes because victims' personal circumstances leave them unable to engage with law enforcement agencies; and calls on the Government to provide victims of modern slavery with the option of 12 months' support and assistance including leave to remain following a positive conclusive grounds decision.

House of Commons: 01/03/2018,

Afghan Boy Launches UK Legal Challenge Against Refugee Policy

A 16-year-old Afghan boy is challenging the government’s refusal to allow him to seek sanctuary in the UK in a case that could give hope to thousands of other child asylum seekers across Europe. The boy, known as ZS, was living in the Calais refugee camp when the French authorities cleared it in October 2016 and he applied unsuccessfully to be brought to the UK under section 67 of the immigration act, known as the Dubs amendment. It is the first time an lone child asylum seeker has issued a challenge of this kind against the home secretary.

The boy, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and attempted suicide three times, has been trying to reach the UK since he fled Afghanistan three years ago. His father assisted western interests and as a result he was abducted and his son was shot. The boy is arguing in the high court challenge that guidance about children in Calais issued by the home secretary applied unlawful criteria, and that unfair procedures were adopted when the Home Office was deciding which children could come to the UK. If the case succeeds it could have implications for thousands of other child asylum seekers hoping to reach the UK under the Dubs amendment.

Read: more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Immigration: Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS)

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Amber Rudd)

New figures published on Thursday 22 February show that the UK is more than half way towards meeting its commitment to resettle 20,000 people through the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme (VPRS) by 2020.

The latest quarterly Home Office immigration statistics show that 10,538 refugees have been resettled on the VPRS, one of the largest global resettlement programmes, since it began.

The VPRS is just one of the routes by which the  UK is helping to resettle refugees. In 2017, a total of 6,212 people were resettled in the UK—a 19% increase on 2016—with 4,832 of these people coming through the VPRS. Five hundred and thirty nine people arrived under the vulnerable children’s resettlement scheme (VCRS) which will resettle up to 3,000 at-risk children and their families from the middle east and north Africa region by 2020. The latest figures take the total number of children that the UK has provided asylum or an alternative form of protection to since the start of 2010 to 28,000.

As a country we can be proud that we are over half way towards honouring our commitment of resettling 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees who have fled Syria by 2020 so they can rebuild their lives here in safety. Nearly half are children and more people are arriving every month.

The VPRS is a joint scheme between the Home Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The UK’s resettlement schemes are just one of the ways the Government are supporting vulnerable children and adults who have fled danger and conflict. The UK remains the second largest donor in humanitarian assistance and has pledged £2.46 billion in UK aid to Syria and the neighbouring countries, its largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis.


CPIN Turkey: Gülenist Movement

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by the state due to a person’s actual or perceived involvement with the Gülenist movement.
1.2 Points to note

1.2.1 For the purposes of this note it is referred to as the Gülenist movement. However, it is also known in Turkey as the ‘Hizmet’ (the ‘Service’) and is considered by Turkey as a terrorist organisation known as the ‘Fetullahç? Terör Örgütü, FETÖ’ (‘Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FTO)’) and also sometimes referred to as the ‘Parallel Devlet Yap?lanmas? (PDY)’ (the ‘Parallel State Structure’).

Published on Refworld, 23/02/2018

CPIN Iran: Fear of Punishment for Crimes Committed In Other Countries ('Double Jeopardy' or Re-Prosecution)

?Basis of claim

1.1 Fear of punishment on return to Iran for crimes the person has committed and been punished for in another country (‘double jeopardy’ or re-prosecution).

1.2.1 The term double jeopardy is used to refer to a circumstance where a person is charged in Iran for an offence which was committed and punished in another country. The UK no longer uses the term ‘double jeopardy’ but it is commonly referred to in articles regarding Iran. Where the term is used in this CPIN it refers to cases of this sort.

Published on Refworld, 23/02/2018

Bangladesh: Opposition to the Government

Basis of claim
1.1.1 Fear of persecution or serious harm by state or by non-state actors due to the person’s actual or perceived political affiliation. This can include persecution of:
• leaders or activists of opposition political parties;
• activists of the ruling party fearing non-state actors;
• activists of political parties fearing rival factions within the same party or group; or
• human rights defenders fearing the state.

Published on Refworld, 23/02/2018

CPIN Bangladesh: Women Fearing Gender Based Violence

Basis of claim

1.1.1 A woman fearing gender-based violence from non-state actors amounting to persecution and/or serious harm.

1.2.1 Gender-based violence could include, but is not limited to: domestic violence, rape, acid attacks, fatwa-instigated violence, dowry-related violence, sexual harassment and forced marriage.

Published on Refworld, 23/02/2018

CPIN Albania: Women Fearing Domestic Abuse

Basis of claim

1.1.1 Women in fear of persecution or serious harm due to domestic abuse.

    1. Points to note

1.2.1 Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence. It covers any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. It can include psychological, physical, sexual, economic or emotional abuse. Children can also be victims of, or witnesses to, domestic abuse. Anyone can experience domestic abuse, regardless of background, age, gender, sexuality, race or culture. However, to establish a claim for protection under the refugee convention or humanitarian protection rules, that abuse needs to reach a minimum level of severity to constitute persecution or serious harm

1.2.2 Where a claim is refused, it must be considered for certification under section 94 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 as Albania is listed as a designated state.

Published on Refworld, 23/02/2018