Tag: Safe Returns

Safe Returns Policy – New Policy Applicable to All Refugees in the UK

All those who applying for settlement protection after completing the appropriate probationary period of limited leave will be subject to a safe return review with reference to the country situation at the date the application is considered. Those who still need protection at that point will normally qualify for settlement.

In March 2017, the Home Office announced that a new policy regarding all individuals with the Refugee Status. The policy has an effect for all existing and future applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) as a Refugee (a further step after Leave to Remain application). In order to make an ILR application a refugee has to use ‘SET(P)’ form. The ILR allows refugees to have further access benefits which were granted under the Leave to Remain application, such as, access to public funds, education, or employment. 

Unlike the old policy, the new policy does not grant an automatic grant of settlement.

The exemptions when the automatic grant was not given to the applicant by the Home Office are the following:

Trigger 1: Review on the basis of information relating to actions (or alleged actions) of an individual refugee. In this section, any actions taken by the refugee to be against the security of the UK and/or any (criminal) allegations may take away the Refugee Status from a refugee.

Trigger 2: Review on the basis of a significant and non-temporary change in the conditions in a particular country (cessation). This is where the country from which the refugee is feared from persecution will no longer apply due to significant and non-temporary change in country. This trigger, the Home Office claims, to apply to all applicants of ILR regardless of the timing of their application. This is what is most importantly implied by the new Policy.

A “significant and non-temporary change in country situation” is described in the new policy:

In relation to changes to the country situation, this refers to changes that are significant and non-temporary such that a fear of persecution can no longer be regarded as well-founded. Caseworkers should note that the overthrow of one political party in favour of another might only be transitory or the election of a new government may not automatically mean that there is no longer a risk of persecution for the individual refugee. The changes must be such that the reasons for becoming a refugee have ceased to exist.

This implies that a change of personal circumstances may disqualify a refugee who faces a misappropriate impact on the refugee after they settle, for instance, women refugees who are at risk of domestic violence or FGM. The policy acknowledges such circumstances by stating: 

Caseworkers must consider whether the grant of refugee status was for more than one reason. For example, a woman may have been granted on the basis that she refused to agree to a forced marriage. If she is now married, she may still face a risk of persecution if she has married without the consent of her family. They may also fall within another category of risk and as such, revocation would not be appropriate. Revocation action on grounds that the protection need has ceased to exist should only be considered where there is no risk of persecution or serious harm on any grounds.

Trigger 3: Where the Secretary of State for the Home Department has announced to Parliament a review based on a significant and non-temporary change to a country situation. (No countries as of yet have been announced).

There are also other reasons to refuse settlement for a refugee:

  • There have been changes in personal circumstances
  • The refugee has returned to their country of origin or habitual residence
  • The refugee has obtained a national passport from their home country
  • There is evidence the original decision to recognise refugee status was incorrect
  • Any dependents of the refugee have travelled home or obtained a national passport

Within the application it is important for the refugee to be in the UK during the application period and the application should include all dependents living with the refugee including those who were born in the UK since the moment when the Refugee Status was granted.

The applications prior to March 2017, took under 6 months and resulted in a grant of ILR, however with the Brexit atmosphere and harsher Immigration Law changes, the new policy intends to demonstrate, as Immigration barrister Colin Yeo claims, “either that the Government does not want refugees to integrate or at least that there is no-one sufficiently senior at the Home Office who is responsible for thinking about integration”. In such hostile environment, it has been raised repeatedly that the right legal advice is mandatory to ensure the success of a refugee’s application, however there are a few changes that should be known about the new policy.