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News & Views Monday 18th February to Sunday 24th March 2019


Catch 22 Trapping People in Immigration Detention

A detention centre is no home, but for many detainees that is essentially what it has become. Changes last year to the rules governing post-release accommodation mean that many migrants are stuck in immigration removal centres after being granted bail solely because they have no home to be released to. Tara Brian reports

Prior to 2018, detainees without an address could apply for accommodation from the Home Office. But in January last year, this system was replaced with new rules that permit only a small number of people to qualify for accommodation under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Other detainees are expected to apply for existing accommodation support designed for asylum seekers in the community, but several factors make this impossible to access from within detention. Coupled with a disconnect between this policy and that of the independent tribunal that grants immigration bail, many detainees are trapped in a Catch 22.

In order to be released, they first need an address. ‘It’s impossible to get the accommodation until you’re out, but you can’t get out without accommodation,’ explains Adam Spray, legal manager at the charity Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID). ‘Already a problematic area, post-detention accommodation is now a crisis situation,’ BID wrote in a briefing on the new system last July.

Read more: Tara Brian, Justice Gap,

(ARC) Country of Information Update Vol. 190

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 5 and 18 March 2019.

Download the full report here

Detained Migrants Working Way Below Minimum Wage Lose Out £250k Each Month

Once again outrage over the £1 per hour wage regime implemented by the Home Office for detainees working in immigration removal centres (IRCs) has burgeoned. The Morning Star has charted an estimation of the pay which detainees have lost out on compared with the current minimum wage afforded to 25s and over. It is predicted that it equates to £250,000 for just one month, in accordance with the hours racked up by detainees functioning under these essential roles that support the running of the IRCs. Philip Armitage is part of the team at Duncan Lewis that are challenging this policy. He comments: “It continues to be a national disgrace that the Home Office pays immigration detainees £1 per hour to clean and maintain the detention centres where their liberty is being denied. These latest figures show the scale of the problem and we continue to challenge this policy on behalf of our clients. A rethink in this exploitative policy is well overdue.” The challenge being brought it currently pending with judgment anticipated shortly.

(Morning Star) (19 March 2019)

Asylum Requests in EU Sharply Decline in 2018

Asylum requests in the EU sharply declined in 2018 compared with previous years, new figures released by Eurostat have shown. "In 2018, 580,800 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), down by 11% compared with 2017," the EU statistical agency said.
That is half the number recorded 2015, at the peak of the civil war in Syria, when 1,256,600 first-time asylum applicants were registered.

Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis continued to be the top nationalities, together accounting for almost 30% of all first-time applicants, Eurostat said. Germany last year remained the prime destination for asylum applicants, followed by France, Greece, Spain and Italy.

Rome, now with an anti-immigration party sharing office, recorded the biggest drop in applications last year.
Asylum has been an inflammatory political issue throughout the bloc in recent years, which has prompted EU-wide reform projects to be postponed until after the European elections in May this year.

Source Euronews,

Sajid Javid Urged to Act on Refugee Family Reunification Bill

Nearly 70 MPs have written to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, urging him to act over proposed legislation that would relax restrictive rules for reuniting refugees with their families. Current immigration rules only allow adult refugees to apply for their married or civil partners and dependent children under 18 to join them. They are unable to submit applications for their parents, grandparents, siblings or children over 18.  Children who are in the UK alone and have refugee status do not have the right to be reunited with even their closest family members.
The refugee family reunion bill, a private member’s bill put forward by the SNP MP Angus MacNeil, seeks to broaden the definition of a family member.

The proposed legislation received overwhelming backing at its second reading in the Commons a year ago, but the passing of the bill has since stalled and under parliamentary rules that govern private members’ bills, time is running out to pass it into law. Nearly 70 MPs, including the Conservative chair of the justice committee, Bob Neill, have written to Javid, calling on him to prevent further delays. The letter reads: “Almost a year ago, MPs from across the political spectrum united behind a common cause as they overwhelmingly voted to introduce a law that would help reunite refugee families. “The current rules condemn child refugees fleeing conflict and persecution to live in the UK without their parents. It also prevents parents from bringing their children over the age of 18. At a time when refugees need their families the most, they are being forced to be without them indefinitely.  “They say a week is a long time in politics, but a year is a long time to wait. For refugee families it means a year of missed birthdays, Christmases, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days and Eids.  “We cannot let the urgent crowd out the important. We urge you to use your power to stop the delays on this bill and allow it the necessary time to proceed and be debated. With your help we can bring families together.”

Read more: Jamie Grierson, Guardian,

Residence Permits - Granted on the Basis of Falsified Documents

Where they have been granted on the basis of falsified documents, residence permits obtained for the purpose of family reunification and long-term resident status may be withdrawn, even if the holders of such permits or status were unaware of the fraud committed

However, as regards residence permits obtained for the purpose of family reunification, national authorities must carry out, beforehand, a case-by-case assessment of the situation of the persons concerned

Court of Justice of the European Union, C-557/17 Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie v Y.Z. and Others

Read the full judgement.

Home Office Held 'Illegal Interview' With Asylum Seeker

Concerns have been raised that the Home Office acted illegally when it invited Zimbabwean government officials to interview an asylum seeker at an immigration centre.

The Zimbabwean woman, who has been in the UK for more than 16 years and has an ongoing asylum claim, attended Vulcan House in Sheffield in December to find Zimbabwean officials waiting to speak to her.
She is one of scores of Zimbabweans to have been interviewed by Zimbabwean embassy officials at Home Office centres across the UK over the past few months, in what has been seen as an acceleration of the removals process since the country’s change of government.

The Home Office described the interviews as routine “redocumentation interviews” to establish the identity of a refused asylum seeker so that travel documentation can be issued and they can be removed from the UK.
In a letter to immigration minister Caroline Nokes, Paul Blomfield, the MP for Sheffield Central, said that as her claim to asylum was outstanding, subjecting her to such an interview contravened immigration rules. She had submitted her latest claim on 5 October last year.

Read more: Frances Perraudin, Guardian,

An Asylum Seeker May Not be Transferred to the Member State If!

An asylum seeker may not be transferred to the Member State normally responsible for processing his application if the expected living conditions would expose him to a situation of extreme material poverty

An asylum seeker may be transferred to the Member State that is normally responsible for processing his application or that has previously granted him subsidiary protection:

unless the expected living conditions in that Member State of those granted international protection if he would be exposed to a substantial risk of suffering in that Member State inhuman or degrading treatment on account of the living conditions that he could be expected to encounter as a beneficiary of international protection (assuming that he is granted such protection).

Inadequacies in the social system of the Member State concerned do not warrant, in and of themselves, the conclusion that there is a risk of such treatment

Court of Justice of the European Union,

Travel Documents – An Overview

In limited circumstances, non-British nationals in the UK who do not hold a passport of their country of origin can apply to the Home Office to be issued with a travel document. The Home Office currently issues the following types of travel documents:

1951 UN Convention Travel Document (blue cover)

This document may be issued to a person who has been recognised as a refugee under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and granted leave in this category. Family members may also apply for such a travel document if they too were granted leave as a refugee or as a dependant.

1954 UN Convention Travel Document (red cover)

This document may be issued to a person who has been recognised as stateless under the terms of the 1954 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

The above documents are normally valid for up to 10 years or in line with the leave held by the applicant in the UK. Holders of 1951 Convention travel documents are normally permitted to travel to any country except for the country from which asylum was sought. However, we strongly recommend that anyone wishing to travel on a Home Office issued travel document check with that country’s Embassy or Consulate in the UK whether that country recognises their status and will admit them on their travel document; and what immigration or visa requirements may need to be satisfied.

There is no automatic mutual recognition of refugee status, notwithstanding that there are some 148 signatories to the refugee Convention. Therefore, whether someone has been recognised as a refugee in one country does not mean that this status will automatically be recognised by another country. A refugee facing criminal allegations in their country of origin may still be arrested in another country when travelling on a UK-issued travel document. It is important, therefore, to make enquiries and take certain precautions before travelling. Gherson has assisted many individuals in such a situation, including those who have travelled without making the necessary arrangements and who have subsequently been arrested.

Read more: Gherson Immigration,

Appeal Rights for “Extended Family Members” of EEA Nationals

Regulation 8 of Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 defines an extended family member as a person who is not a family member of an EEA national under regulation 7(1)(a),(b) or (c) and who is either:

a relative of an EEA national who is residing in a country other than the UK and is dependent on the EEA national;

is a member of their household and either:

- is accompanying the EEA national to the UK or wishes to join them

- has joined them in the UK and continues to be dependent on them or to be a member of their household;

a relative of an EEA national who strictly requires the personal care of the EEA national due to serious health grounds;

a relative of an EEA national who would meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for indefinite leave to remain (other than those relating to entry clearance) as a dependent relative of an EEA national as if the EEA national was a person present and settled in the UK; or is

the partner (other than a civil partner) of an EEA national who can prove they are in a durable relationship with the EEA national.
Previously, extended family members had no right to appeal a refused application, however the Home Office has implemented an updated clause in the 2016 Regulations which states:

“Regulation 3 concerns the rights of appeal for extended family members of EEA nationals. It amends the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (“the 2016 Regulations”). It does this by making provision for a right of appeal against a decision to refuse to issue an EEA family permit (under regulation 12(4)), a registration certificate (under regulation 17(5)) or a residence card (under regulation 18(4)) to an extended family member of an EEA national”.

Explanatory memorandum, paragraph 7.5

This change should be implemented 21 days after the regulations were brought before Parliament, which was 7 March 2019. Therefore, extended family members of EEA residents will have the right to appeal a refusal after this date.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,