Ban That Prevents Asylum Seekers From Working to Remain
In a statement to the House of Commons, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration has confirmed that the Home Office will not lift the ban that prevents asylum seekers from working. Tom Pursglove MP said the Government is keeping the current asylum seeker right to work policy with no further changes. Since 2018, the 250-member strong Lift the Ban coalition led by Refugee Action has been campaigning to overturn the right to work policy. As we reported on EIN last year, the coalition argued that allowing asylum seekers to work could benefit the UK economy by almost £100 million per year. The Home Office conducted a review following the Lift the Ban coalition's original October 2018 report, but today rejected the coalition's figures as being overly optimistic. Tom Pursglove said in today's statement: "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."
Refugee Action responded on Twitter: "This statement supposedly ends the 3 year review into giving people seeking asylum the right to work with a nonsensical 'no'. Unsure why it took 3 years to write 600 words entirely missing the point. Needless to say, we'll keep fighting to #LiftTheBan."
Read more: Electronic Immigration Network, https://rb.gy/svgnn4
Harm Caused by the ‘No Recourse’ to Public Funds Policy (NRPF)
The overwhelming majority of people with NRPF are people of colour. Black women, in particular, are disproportionately impacted by the harms associated with the condition. "NRPF is a condition attached to temporary visas which prohibits people from accessing most state benefits and services, including Universal Credit, Child Benefit and social housing. It's intended to protect the welfare state from short term visitors taking advantage of it. But it's a policy that, in its scope and its harm, has gone far too far."
Previous analysis carried out by the Oxford Migration Observatory on behalf of Citizens Advice has estimated that around 1.376 million people in the UK have the NRPF condition attached to their visa. "[P]eople who have NRPF are typically long term residents who have been living and working in the UK for several years. The majority are working, but have lower incomes than the general population, and hundreds of thousands are raising children here." Parents with NRPF face some of the most challenging circumstances and have almost no state support. Many children who are British citizens or have indefinite leave to remain are unable to receive entitlements such as Child Benefit because their parents have NRPF.
Read more: Electronic Immigration Network, https://rb.gy/lbuudl
Continuing Conflicts That Create Refugees - December 2021
Deteriorated Situations - Burkina, Faso - Democratic, Republic of Congo - Uganda - Somalia - Bangladesh - Solomon Islands - Armenia - Azerbaijan - Belarus - El Salvador - Nicaragua - Western Sahara
Conflict Risk Alerts for December 2021 - Ukraine, Yemen, Libya
Improved Situations - none / Resolution Opportunities - none
Russia’s military build-up along Ukraine’s border increased domestic and international concerns about a potential invasion and renewed armed conflict in the east. - Fighting erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan along their international border, killing at least a dozen soldiers on both sides. - In El Salvador, President Bukele deployed the military in response to a surge in gang-related violence, while relations with the U.S. deteriorated further. - Tensions escalated in Western Sahara after Algeria and the Polisario Front independence movement accused Morocco of killing civilians in possible drone attacks. - Jihadists in Burkina Faso launched the deadliest attack on security forces since 2015. - Tensions between Belarus and Western governments intensified as Minsk fomented a migration crisis with thousands seeking entry into the EU stranded at the Polish border amid dire humanitarian conditions. - In the Solomon Islands, an anti-government protest in the capital Honiara degenerated into days of unrest that killed at least three people. - Rival forces in Libya could mobilise around the 24 December polls amid a lack of consensus on the electoral framework and disputes over some presidential candidates’ eligibility. - Huthis could attack or lay siege to Yemen’s Marib city after the group tightened its grip in surrounding areas and Saudi-led coalition-aligned troops withdrew from the Red Sea coast.
Read more: International Crisis Group: https://www.crisisgroup.org/crisiswatch
Inflexible Biometrics Policy for Refugee Family Reunion Declared Unlawful
In R (SGW) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (JR/227/2021, 26 November 2021) the Upper Tribunal decided that Home Office guidance on refugee family reunion applications is unlawful because it fails to accurately describe the legal discretion in relation to providing biometric information. The case was about an Eritrean national with refugee status, SGW. His brother, FGW, is in Libya and wishes to join SGW in the UK. FGW had attempted to leave Libya by boat but had been intercepted, sent back to Libya and held in detention for nearly two years. He was assisted by the UN Refugee Agency which considered him to be a minor, secured his release and provided him with accommodation. FGW requested family reunification outside of the Immigration Rules. His solicitors asked for a waiver of the requirement for biometrics (photographs and fingerprints) to be given before the application could be considered. The Home Office refused and decided that the application was invalid for lack of biometrics.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/cdjgzs
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, And Santa Was Filling in UK Border Forms
In the run-up to Christmas, Santa must be getting ready for his round-the-world trip on the night of 24 December. But this is the first year he will be trying to get in and out of the UK without free movement measures applying. The post-Brexit transition period, extending the application of EU law in the UK, ended on 31 December 2020. Having previously moved seamlessly between the UK and EU countries, he might like to consider how things have changed.
What is Santa’s nationality? Historically this has been a bit of a thorny issue, with a number of countries claiming him as their own. There does however seem to be something of a consensus around his being an EU national. The main theories suggest he is Finnish, coming from Lapland; or Danish, from Greenland, close(ish) to the North Pole; or perhaps Greek – Saint Nicholas was a fourth century bishop from either Greece or Turkey. We’ll leave Turkey aside for now, and treat Santa as an EU national.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/sfnzsx
Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
No More Deaths- in the Channel or Anywhere
Tuesday 14th December 12:30 to 14:00 GMT. A lunchtime online Q&A hosted by All African Women’s Group and Global Women Against Deportations based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre.
Hear from women asylum seekers who have made the dangerous journey to the UK and who can counter the lies put out about people fleeing for safety, including those arriving by boat on UK shores.
All African Women’s Group (AAWG) is a self-help group of women asylum seekers from all over the world who have fled rape and other torture, war, poverty and environmental devastation. AAWG was founded in 2003 and campaigns to end destitution, detention and deportation.
Global Women Against Deportations is a coalition based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre, which includes AAWG @AfricanGr along with Legal Action for Women, Women Against Rape @AgainstRape & Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike @woc_gws.
Inspector Reveals Broken Promises on Free Visa Appointments
The immigration inspector has welcomed an increase in free appointments at visa centres in the UK following a report showing that they have been consistently unavailable. David Neal found that Home Office attempts to keep appointments free despite outsourcing them had “not yet been achieved”. The result has been an extra “financial burden” on migrants forced to stump up merely to attend an immigration appointment, despite having already paid through the nose for the application itself.
When in-country immigration appointments were taken off the Post Office in 2018 and given to outsourcing giant Sopra Steria, the Home Office promised “free appointments available to all”. The reality was a switch from free Post Office appointments nationwide to free appointments only at six “core” visa centres. All the rest of Sopra Steria’s locations — the “enhanced” and “premium” centres — have been charging for access.
Remarkably, so do the core centres much of the time. Since last year, Sopra Steria’s contract has included a “key performance indicator” for free appointments at core locations: 56% should be free. Stakeholders, predictably, told inspectors that the net result of all this was “a nightmare”, “very busy with no appointments available for anyone”, with free appointments “few and far between”.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/9sdmze
Effect of Deportation on Children: Imran Case Reversed
In MI (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1711, the Court of Appeal continues to unpick pre-HA (Iraq) deportation jurisprudence, here reversing the Upper Tribunal decision of Imran (Section 117C(5); children, unduly harsh : Pakistan)  UKUT 83 (IAC). Our unimpressed write-up of the Imran decision at the time is here. The judgment also confirms that the Secretary of State’s application for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment in HA (Iraq) remains outstanding.
Background: Mr Imran had won his appeal against deportation at the First-tier Tribunal following his conviction for actual bodily harm and resulting 18-month prison sentence. Applying the test in section 117C(5) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, the first instance judge found that it would be “unduly harsh” on Mr Imran’s children for him to be deported. In particular: Giving the judgment of the court, Lady Justice Simler repeated some of the central findings of HA (Iraq), including that it is not possible to identify an “ordinary” level of harshness suffered by a hypothetical child, and that appropriate weight must be accorded to the emotional harm for children of deported parents.
Read more: Freemovement, https://rb.gy/amcjmw