News & Views Monday 16th December to Sunday 22nd December 2019


High Court Rules Home Office's £1,000 Fee For Children to Register as British Citizens Unlawful

Court finds “mass of evidence” against Home Office child citizenship fee

Lawyers and campaigners urge Government to act quickly to end its practice of "shameless profiteering" from children's citizenship rights‘ This is a landmark ruling. But the fight for justice for children born and growing up in the UK goes on’ - Carol Bohmer

The High Court in London on Thursday 19th December, ruled the £1,012 fee the Home Office charges children to register as a British citizen unlawful.

In a landmark case, brought forward by the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), the court found a “mass of evidence” showing that the fee prevents many children from registering British citizenship, leaving them feeling “alienated, excluded, ‘second-best’, insecure and not fully assimilated into the culture and social fabric of the UK.”

The case, which is supported by Amnesty International UK, has been brought by three claimants – two children, A and O, aged 3 and 12 and both born in the UK; and the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens.

The current administrative processing cost of a child’s registration claim is only £372. The Home Office uses the remaining £640 to cross-subsidise the immigration system.

Today’s judgment requires the Home Office to reconsider the fee and ensure that children’s best interests are taken fully into account in doing so. The court has made clear that where a child has a right to British citizenship it will generally be in the child’s best interests to be registered as British – something the Home Office had denied in evidence to the court.

Read more: Amnesty International UK media information:

Europe: Asylum Applications Reached a New Peak In October

Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, Colombia and Pakistan were the top five countries of origin in October - each lodging record levels of applications, even compared to upward trends in the past few months. In particular, Pakistanis lodged the most applications since the beginning of 2017, Afghans since late 2016, Venezuelans and Colombians since – at least – 2014. Record applications were also lodged by nationals of Turkey, Bangladesh, Algeria, Congo (DR) and Moldova, among others.

More than 71 000 applications were lodged in EU+ countries in October, the highest number since the end of 2016. Approximately 587 000 applications have been lodged in the EU+ since the beginning of 2019, up by 11% from the same period last year.Some 52 725 decisions were issued at first instance, up by 13% from September, the highest output in the past year and a half. This might be seen as an attempt to cope with the growing backlog. However, despite these efforts there were still many more applications than case closures at first instance (including decisions, discontinuations due to withdrawals, plus administrative and Dublin closures).

At the end of September 2019, there were some 889 525 cases pending at all instances. Of these, EASO estimates that about 517 100 cases were pending at first instance, indicating that even though a considerable part of the open cases had been transferred from asylum authorities to judicial bodies, the pressure was still higher at the first-instance authorities. 

For more information and an interactive data-visualisation,

please visit the Latest Asylum Trends page.

Supreme Court: SSHD v Shah - Appeal allowed

On appeal from the Court of Appeal Civil Division (England and Wales)

Mr Patel is an Indian national who is the primary carer for his elderly father. Both his parents are British citizens – his father has final stage kidney disease and his mother had previously suffered a heart attack and has very poor knee function making her relatively immobile. Mr Shah is a Pakistani national who is the primary carer for his British citizen child. His wife is a British citizen and works full time.

Both of the appellants applied for a Derivative Residence Card on the basis of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which state that a non-EU citizen is entitled to derivative right to reside in the UK if they are a primary carer of a British citizen residing in the UK and the British citizen would be unable to reside in the UK or another EEA state if the non-citizen were required to leave. Both were rejected on the basis that the relatives they cared for would not be forced to leave the UK if the appellants left.

The issue is:
Whether the CJEU decision in Chavez-Vilchez (Case C-133/15) altered the approach to the question of derivative claims for residence in the UK by those without rights of residence, based upon their care of British citizens who are their "direct relatives".

The Supreme Court unanimously allows Mr Shah’s appeal and dismisses Mr Patel’s appeal.

More information is available on Supreme Court 
Press summary (PDF)
Judgment (PDF)

Establishing the Legal Threshold Under Section 31 Children Act 1989

This case proved to be a complex matter because the child’s (B) background and history was not clear from the outset. Furthermore, there was no person in the UK who exercised parental responsibility for her. This case considered in detail the onus of proving threshold so that the child could remain in foster care. A great deal of sensitivity was required on the part of the instructing solicitor, particularly when ensuring that the voice of the child was directly heard in court without her having to give evidence herself.

The parties are from a country that experienced periods of political and economic turbulence. The carers entered the country as unaccompanied minors. B’s mother left her when she was one, and her father was killed during the political conflict. As such, B was placed in the care of an employee of the father. The employee raised B, despite being in a state of poverty himself. B believed that he was her father and later found he was not when her half-sister (RA) in the UK made contact with her. She applied to bring B to the UK and following protracted efforts, B came to the UK in February 2018 and resided with RA. She also formed a close relationship with RA’s friends who she looked to as family. RA went abroad to get married and left B with her friends. She then left her in the care of the family until B went to school one day in a distressed state and was accommodated by the local authority.

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

Nine Children Killed or Maimed in Afghanistan Every Day

The dire predicament of the country as currently the world’s worst killing field, is an acknowledgement of the nearly 6,500 child fatalities and almost 15,000 others injured between 2009 and 2018.

The rate of child casualties has increased by some 11 per cent since 2018, which the study puts down to factors such as a surge in suicide bomb attacks and ground engagements between pro and anti-government forces.
“Even by Afghanistan’s grim standards, 2019 has been particularly deadly for children”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement. “Children, their families and communities suffer the horrific consequences of conflict each and every day. Those same children are desperate to grow up, go to school, learn skills, and build a future for themselves. We can, and must, do so much more to reinforce their extraordinary courage and resilience.”

In the statement, UNICEF reminded all parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, which require them to protect children, end the targeting of schools and health centres and allow access to humanitarian assistance.

Beyond avoiding conflict-related violence, children growing up in Afghanistan are confronted with a host of other challenges. These include severe malnutrition, which affects some 600,000 youngsters; child marriage, with one in three girls marrying before the age of 18; and a lack of access to formal education, which affects some 3.7 million school-aged children.

Read more: UN News,

Woman’s Vital Cancer Treatment Delayed Over £150k NHS Charge

An elderly woman suffering from two forms of cancer had vital NHS treatment delayed for months because she couldn’t afford a £150,000 upfront charge, the Observer can reveal.

The case highlights not just the impact of the government’s upfront charging regime – introduced in 2017 as part of its “hostile environment” towards immigrants – but also the failure of changes to the guidance given to hospitals that were announced in response to previous controversies.

The patient’s family and doctor both appealed for help to her local MP – the health secretary Matthew Hancock. But even though Hancock was presented with clear signs that his own rules were not being followed, there is no evidence he intervened to ensure that the urgent treatment was provided.

The patient, whom the Observer is not naming at her family’s request, came to Britain from Azerbaijan in June 2018 to visit her adult children. Later in 2018 she noticed a lump in her right groin, which was diagnosed as a nodal malignant melanoma – an aggressive form of cancer. Subsequent tests showed she also had a separate cancerous growth in her lung. However, the Home Office rejected her application to extend her six-month visa, and as an undocumented migrant, she became eligible for upfront charging.

Read more: Observer,

Interpretation Problems in Immigration Proceedings: How Grave Can They Be?

The quality of interpretation and the professionalism of the court interpreter are of the utmost importance in immigration proceedings, especially in asylum or extradition cases, where the stakes are high. Serious concerns about the interpreter’s professional behavior can even cause the court decision to be set aside, as happened in a recent asylum case.

At the First-tier Tribunal hearing of this case the official court interpreter simply failed to translate everything that the appellant said. The appellant, who understood some English, brought this to the Immigration Judge’s attention. A second interpreter, who was present at this hearing and who had been hired by the appellant’s solicitors, also noticed inconsistencies in the translation provided by the court interpreter and made the appellant’s barrister fully aware of the problem. The appellant’s barrister proceeded to apply for the case to be adjourned and re-heard on this basis. The application was refused, however. The judge stated that the attendance of an additional interpreter was “an unnecessary expenditure of public funds” and suggested that the application was just a tactical move by the barrister in order to “lay the ground for an appeal in the event of this appeal being unsuccessful”.

This case highlights a systemic problem that occurs where interpreters are required in the Courts and the Tribunals. Good translators are very difficult to find and in many cases for the case to go ahead, there is inevitably a compromise. The judges needs to strike a balance between appellants who are trying to disrupt or delay proceedings and the interests of justice where an appellants case could be wrongly decided because of inferior or inaccurate translation. 

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Long-Term Foster Care of Child and Adoption of Another Against Mother's Wishes Violation of Article 8

In today's Chamber judgments1 in the cases of A.S. v. Norway (application no. 60371/15) and Abdi Ibrahim v. Norway (application no. 15379/16), the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been in both cases: a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The cases concerned decisions by the Norwegian authorities and courts to take the applicants' children into care at a young age and then in the first case to refuse to terminate long-term foster care for the child and in the second to allow adoption by the foster family, both against the applicants' wishes. The applicants were refused any contact rights with their children. The Court referred to the recent case of Strand Lobben v. Norway, noting the "strict scrutiny" it had to apply when limitations had been placed on parental access after a child had been taken into care. The Court found that the decision-making process on the children in these two cases had failed to give due account to the applicants' views and interests, leading to violations of their human rights.

Government Accepts Babies Should Not Have Been Charged For Life-Saving Treatment

Last year two babies were born prematurely, and had to spend the first few months of their lives in intensive care.  They were left with significant ongoing health problems for which they require regular treatment. Almost a year later their parents, who have leave to remain in the UK, began to receive invoices from the hospitals that had treated their babies, amounting to almost £100,000.  Full payment was demanded within 14 days from the parents, who work in very low paid jobs.  They were unable to do so, and sought advice from a charity, that referred them to us.

The law requires parents who have limited leave to remain in the UK to apply for leave to remain for their babies, but these parents were unaware of that. Their focus was on being there for the babies who were in Neo-natal intensive care, whilst trying not to lose their jobs. The rules on charging migrants for NHS treatment state that after 3 months babies are charged, so at that point (although the parents were unaware) the babies started to accumulate debts.

We helped the family challenge that decision by way of judicial review, and permission was granted for the case to proceed to a final hearing, which was due to take place in November.  Shortly before the hearing the government agreed to wipe out the debts so that they would not have any practical impact.

Source: Deighton Pierce Glynn,