Home Office Facing Legal Action Over Rights of 2.5 Million EU Nationals
The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA), a government-sponsored watchdog designed to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK, has issued judicial review proceedings against the department on the basis that it risks unlawfully stripping people of their rights. Under the EU settlement scheme, which EU citizens were required to apply for in order to obtain post-Brexit immigration status, applicants who have lived in Britain for less than five years are granted pre-settled status, which expires after five years. The total number of individuals granted pre-settled status up to 30 September 2021 is estimated to be 2.5 million Before their pre-settled status expires, they are required to apply for settled status or re-apply for pre-settled status. If they do not apply in time, they will automatically lose rights to work, access housing, education and claim benefits and could be liable for deportation.
The IMA argues that the government’s position that citizens who fail to apply for settled status before the expiry date automatically lose their rights is unlawful. In documents submitted to the High Court, the watchdog states: “If [pre-settled status holders) fail to apply for either status, the secretary of state will consider them to be unlawfully present in the UK. “The result is that they will be exposed to considerable serious consequences affecting their right to live, work and access social security support in the UK.” The IMA has already raised these concerns with the Home Office and issued them with a pre-action protocol letter on 15 October. The Home Office has said it does not agree with this interpretation and the IMA has therefore launched legal action
Read more: May Bulman, Independent, https://rb.gy/itdjey
UK Policies on Granting Refugee Status Rely Too Much On Statistics
The Home Office issues Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINs) on the main countries that asylum seekers come from to seek protection in the United Kingdom. CPINs aim both to summarise country of origin information and to provide guidance to asylum caseworkers on how to decide certain types of refugee and human rights claims. They currently cover 44 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and have significant influence over asylum outcomes.
Getting asylum decisions right first time is not only essential to ensure refugees are given an opportunity to move forward with their lives as soon as possible, but also to avoid excessive delays and costs associated with appeals, legal aid and support. As part of its efforts to improve the quality of initial decisions, Asylum Research Centre (ARC) Foundation has been reviewing and providing commentary on CPINs for over ten years.
Over the last 18 months, ARC Foundation has observed that CPINs increasingly rely on quantitative assessments to determine whether asylum seekers should be granted protection in the UK. Combined with my legal scrutiny, we found that as a result of excessive weight being placed on quantitative evidence, the analysis of country of origin information lacks clarity and the law is in places inaccurately applied.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/iqwfi6
NHS Charging: Basing Treatment Decisions on Immigration Status lawful
The High Court in R (OK) v The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 3165 has rejected another challenge to the operation of the NHS charging regulations.
This claim for judicial review was brought by OK, a Nigerian man living in England since 1990 but without immigration status since receiving a deportation order in 2014. OK remained in the UK and, in 2019, was diagnosed with kidney failure after being bitten by his pet puppy (he tells the story here). He received dialysis treatment three times a week from the Royal Free London NHS Trust (at the eye-watering cost of 150% of the national tariff) with free travel to and from appointments.
In December 2019, the trust informed OK that his dialysis was neither an “urgent service” or “immediately necessary service” under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015. As such, it was unavailable to overseas visitors — which he was for these purposes — without payment in advance. OK’s doctor stopped his treatment and told him that should he feel unwell he should visit A&E instead. If A&E found that he needed dialysis, he could get it for free at the renal department.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/vjwnyy
Institute of Race Relaions - Calender of Racism & Resistance
The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was established as an independent educational charity in 1958 to carry out research, publish and collect resources on race relations throughout the world. In 1972, the IRR’s membership backed the staff in a radical transformation of the organisation from a policy-oriented, establishment, academic institution into an anti-racist ‘thinktank’. The IRR began to concentrate on responding to the needs of Black people and making direct analyses of institutionalised racism in Britain and the rest of Europe. (For more information on the IRR’s first fifty years, watch the below slide show on IRR’s history.) Today, the IRR is at the cutting edge of the research and analysis that inform the struggle for racial justice in Britain, Europe and internationally. It seeks to reflect the experiences of those who suffer racial oppression and draws its perspectives from the most vulnerable in society.
Calendar of Racism and Resistance (1 – 15 December 2021
Source: IRR, https://rb.gy/1s7eld
Napier Barracks and Penally Camp Unfit for Asylum Accommodation
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention last week published the full report of its inquiry into the Home Office's controversial use of 'quasi-detention' to house destitute asylum seekers at large-scale, institutional sites such as Napier Barracks in Kent and Penally Camp in Wales.
Napier and Penally have been used for contingency accommodation since last year due to the pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The APPG on Immigration Detention is highly critical of the sites, with the inquiry finding them to be prison-like and "fundamentally unsuitable" for use as asylum accommodation. Alison Thewliss MP, the Chair of the APPG, added that the use of such sites is not only inappropriate, but also downright harmful. Thewliss says the report makes for sobering reading.
The report states: "The APPG Inquiry has heard how residents have been forced to live in appalling conditions, and how their mental health in particular has deteriorated, in some cases to the point of suicidality, during their stays. The government has overseen numerous operational failings at the sites, despite repeated warnings from inspectors, the High Court and others about how badly things have gone wrong. It accepts that the sites are not suitable environments for vulnerable people, yet has allowed such individuals to be sent to and remain at them, including unaccompanied age-disputed children, people who are self-harming and attempting suicide, and victims of torture, trafficking and other serious abuses."
Read more: Electronic Immigratin Network, https://rb.gy/gymuby
Man Who Never Left UK Avoids Deportation After Seven-Year Legal Battle
A 38-year-old man born in the UK without British citizenship cannot be deported to a country he has never even been to, the Upper Tribunal has decided. The case is Akinyemi v Secretary of State for the Home Department (unreported, DA/00574/2014).
Remi Akinyemi was born in the UK in 1983. He was not a British citizen at birth and never became one, but remains a citizen of Nigeria “by reason of his family background”. That left him open, in theory, to deportation in light of a long criminal history that began in his teens and continued until 2018.
After a conviction for causing death by dangerous driving in 2007, the Home Office warned him that he could be deported if he came to its attention again. Mr Akinyemi did reoffend and received a deportation order in 2014. He appealed, and the case went up to the Court of Appeal twice, in 2017 and 2019, on various legal issues.
The Upper Tribunal, considering the case for the third time, dismissed Mr Akinyemi’s argument that his medical condition (epilepsy) meant that deportation would breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But it accepted his argument based on Article 8.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/70zrro
Government Refuses to Relax Asylum Seeker Right To Work Rules
The Home Office has knocked back campaigners arguing for a relaxation of the near-total ban on asylum seekers working while they wait for a decision on their claim. The Lift the Ban coalition had produced evidence showing that allowing destitute people to support themselves is good, not least for the Treasury. Officials took three years to respond (spun as a “comprehensive review”) and concluded that “the assumptions underpinning the recommendations are highly optimistic”.
In a written statement, junior minister Tom Pursglove said: Having considered a wide range of available evidence the Home Office believes that a more realistic set of assumptions would present a more nuanced picture… a significant proportion of the fiscal benefits calculated by Lift the Ban are… unlikely to fully materialise…
The Home Office has therefore concluded that the fiscal benefits arising from a relaxation of the right to work policy are likely to be significantly lower than the figures claimed by Lift the Ban. In light of wider priorities to fix the broken asylum system, reduce pull factors to the UK, and ensure our policies do not encourage people to undercut the resident labour force, we are retaining our asylum seeker right to work policy with no further changes.
The average time taken to process an asylum claim last year was 15 months. People waiting for more than 12 months can apply for the right to work, but in shortage jobs only. The number of people given permission is unknown, as is the number who subsequently find employment.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/htkxoa
Four-Year Maximum Sentences For Visa Overstayers
The Home Office issues Country Policy and InThe Nationality and Borders Bill 2021 has passed its third reading in the House of Commons and now goes to the House of Lords on 5 January. The Lords will very likely vote to remove some of the more egregious provisions, and it is always possible that the government will accept a few of those suggestions (it doesn’t have to).
The Bill has already been hacked around a fair bit since we did our in-depth analysis of the text as originally published. One change is to make knowingly overstaying a visa punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment (currently the maximum is six months, very rarely prosecuted). This is being done by adding a new subsection C1 into section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971:
(C1) A person who— (a) has only a limited leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, and (b) knowingly remains beyond the time limited by the leave, commits an offence.
Someone convicted in the Crown Court will be liable to “imprisonment for a term not exceeding four years or a fine (or both)”. The same applies to various other new illegal immigration offences, including entering the UK without an electronic travel authorisation.formation Notes (CPINs) on the main countries that asylum seekers come from to seek protection in the United Kingdom. CPINs aim both to summarise country of origin information and to provide guidance to asylum caseworkers on how to decide certain types of refugee and human rights claims. They currently cover 44 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and have significant influence over asylum outcomes. Getting asylum decisions right first time is not only essential to ensure refugees are given an opportunity to move forward with their lives as soon as possible, but also to avoid excessive delays and costs associated with appeals, legal aid...
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/p12agq