Category: Updates & Publications

Flawed UK Immigration System: State of Decision Making by the Home Office

There is a clear problem with the UK Immigration System with bad decision-making being made by the Home Office, often leading to lengthy delays, unreasonable refusals and having a distressing impact on applicants, their families and businesses.

As Joe Egan, President of The Law Society, elaborated “Almost 50% of UK immigration and asylum appeals are upheld – clear evidence of serious flaws in the way visa and asylum applications are being dealt with.

We understand that the Home Office is faced with a large workload that is disproportionate to the time and resources that have been allocated to them. Moreover, as the Home Office spokesman explained, some appeals are frequently allowed because of new evidence being brought to light that was not available beforehand.

The errors and delays are issues that need to be addressed as the UK Visa and Immigration service is currently being faced with a flood of applications due to Brexit.

Sterling & Law Associates LLP has dealt with numerous immigration cases across the different practice areas, as such we have seen many circumstances that demonstrate the irresponsible decision-making of the Home Office in their refusals and litigation.

Home Office’s Mistakes

Here are some examples of the typical mistakes summarised on the basis of our previous casework:

  • Our client had already left the UK, due to a removal order from the Home Office, and was applying for a Spouse visa from abroad as she had an appointment scheduled in the middle of January at the visa application centre. However, the Home Office decided to make a visit to our client’s husband’s address, while his two children were home, at around 6 in the morning on 2 January with two vans and one car filled with immigration officers to search and remove our client from the UK. Records should have shown that our client was no longer in UK, however this was not the case. Moreover, our client’s subsequent application was then refused even though they admitted that all the requirements were met because the Home Office stated that they were uncertain of our client’s nationality, despite an original valid passport being provided.
  • Similarly, another application was refused on the basis that the passport was not enclosed however the Home Office had previously retained the passport therefore the passport was in their possession.
  • On another occasion, an applicant was applying for a Spouse Entry Clearance Visa to allow her to enter the UK to pick up her Biometric Residence Card. The Home Office had issued her the visa but failed to inform our client and as a result the Visa application centre had held her passport for three months. They only contacted our client to inform her that if our client does not pick up her passport, they would throw it away. Our client was overjoyed because she was issued with her visa however, we soon realised that the visa she was issued with was already expired. Spouse Entry Clearance Visas are only valid for 30 days and as 3 months had passed, we had to request the Home Office to re-issue the visa.
  • Likewise, the Home Office had issued our client with their Biometric Residence card however the Home Office had mistakenly sent it to the wrong address. The letter and the card were received at the client’s sponsor’s employer’s address.
  • Another common example that we have been faced with is inattention to the documentation that was sent with the application. For instance, the Home Office refused a family permit stating that there was lack of evidence that the applicant and the sponsor was related, despite a birth certificate being provided to prove their relationship. Alternatively, the Home Office refused a family permit due to lack of evidence of financial dependency, however regular receipts of money transfers were provided with the application. These cases are currently going through the appeal process to ensure our clients receive a successful result.

These situations reveal a number of flaws in the UK immigration system.  The applications are not being given sufficient consideration, often due to severe time constraints from lack of resources.

The Home Office needs to be given more help through greater number of staff and funds. This in turn would enable the Home Office to take greater care in considering applications, provide better record keeping and updates with regards to our clients and their applications. This ensures that mistakes in refusals, informing clients of the results and administrative errors are minimised.

Home Office & Refusals

A summary of these cases has been provided by the the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association to show how the Home Office causes careless and unreasonable decisions.

  • Firstly, there have been cases of clients facing deportation who asserted that they were British but unable to prove this to the Home Office. Despite the Home Office holding information with regards to these applicants on file, for instance information that proves that they are British, the Home Office forgot to consider this and instead subjected them to unlawful detention and deportation. Subsequently, using Subject Access Requests (SARs), such information was brought to light therefore their status was confirmed, and they received compensation.
  • Secondly, there have been cases where clients made an immigration application only to have the Home Office make a mistake on their identity such as mixing them up with another applicant with similar names, similar details and/or similar nationalities. The cases were often resolved with the use of a SAR to demonstrate that the details have been mixed up, although despite complaints being made, the Home Office often repeated the mistake in a further application.
  • Thirdly, the Home Office has often made wrong assumptions or declarations on the facts of an applicant’s case. For example, the Home Office had wrongly declared that an applicant was an illegal entrant less than 10 years before his application therefore refusing his application to naturalise as a British citizen. Another example is where the Home Office refused an application stating that the applicant had failed to notify them of a change of sponsor however an SAR proved that there were records of such a letter being received. The Home Office failed to look at the documents available to them, leading them to hold incorrect notions regarding the applicant.
  • Fourthly, there has been several evidences of the Home Office’s bad conduct such as tampering with documents to remove information that was contrary to their arguments or refusing an asylum claim even though investigations for the case was still ongoing at the time of the decision. Moreover, there have been cases where the SAR revealed that one immigration officer had decided to grant a positive decision only to have the opposing decision being made the following day. This shows the unpredictability and unreliable nature of the decision-making.
  • Finally, the Home Office often fails to act on a decision that may have been pending for several years. For instance, applications simply were not actioned at the Home Office, the Home Office failed to implement the decision or failed to inform the client regarding the decision. More often than not, the Home Office may have forgotten about a particular case.

If you want further illustration, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has written a briefing document where pages 8-12 elaborates on various case studies of bad conduct on behalf of the Home Office.

Subject Access Requests

Many of the cases above were resolved following the use of subject access requests (SARs), which allow legal representatives to request, on behalf of their clients, the details and information held by the Home Office with regards to their client. It often reveals mistakes made by the Home Office, therefore it is important that the right to SARs is not removed. It is therefore of significance that the immigration control exemption be removed from the Data Protection Bill 2017.

In conclusion, the Home Office often makes errors. This frequently leads to a refusal in the first instance and the appeal being upheld. The fact that around 50% of appeals are upheld demonstrates that the Home Office needs to address their faults.  It is important to shed a light on the miscarriages of process and justice caused by the Home Office to force them to make changes to their flawed immigration system.

Immigration Assistance

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your particular immigration case, please contact our immigration lawyers on Tel. +44(0)20 7822 8535, Mobile / Viber: 074 6338 2838, by e-mail: contact@sterling-law.co.uk or via our online appointment booking form.

Ukraine introduces electronic visas (e-Visa)

From April 2018, the Consular Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine started issuing electronic visas (e-Visa) for entry into Ukraine. E-Visa is a completely new project for Ukraine, which will implement new online application process and modernise existing visa procedures.

Online applications for electronic visas (e-Visa) for entry into Ukraine with a business or tourist purposes can be submitted through this web-page: http://evisa.mfa.gov.ua.

To apply for an e-Visa:

  1. Fill out an online application form
  2. Upload scanned copies of the required documents
  3. Pay a visa fee by bank card (MasterCard Worldwide or Visa International), and
  4. Print out electronic visa which sent to you directly by e-mail.

E-Visa applications are available for citizens of the following countries:

Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Bahrain, Bolivia, Bhutan, Vanuatu, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, Greenland, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Cambodia, Qatar, Costa Rica, Kuwait, Laos, Mauritius, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Oman, Palau, Peru, El Salvador, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Fiji, Jamaica.

Terms and benefits of e-Visa:

  • Remote submission of documents  and receipt of an e-Visa without the need to visit a consular office;
  • Possibility of online tracking of e-Visa application status;
  • Centralised registration of all e-Visas in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine;
  • Continuous information support for applicants by e-mail: evisa@mfa.gov.ua;
  • Processing time – up to 9 business days;
  • Visa fee – 65 USD;
  • Term of visa validity – single entry for up to 30 days.

 

Check if you need a visa for Ukraine

To check whether you require a a visa to enter Ukraine please visit the web-page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visa Free Entry into Ukraine

The nationals of more than 60 countries (including, Brazil, Canada, Israel, USA and EU states) can enter Ukraine without a visa for visits of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. Otherwise, you will require to apply for a visa. For full list of countries and respective visa requirements, please visit this web-page.

Immigration Law

UK Government to Review Investor Visas issued to Russian nationals in 2008-2015

On Tuesday, 27 March  2018, the Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed to the members of parliament that the UK government was conducting a review of visas issued to the foreign investors.

According to The Times, Mrs May announced that the investor visa programme under which more than 700 Russian investors came to Britain between 2008 and 2015 is under review. The Prime Minister noted that the Home Office has been examining whether the Tier 1 Investor route was being used properly or whether there were any loopholes.

Until the end of 2014 the applicants for Tier 1 Investor visas had to demonstrate a minimum of £1 million to invest in the UK, then this threshold was increased to £2 million.

The Prime Minister was urged to start a review of 706 Tier 1 Investor visas issued to the Russian citizens  and their respective source of income indicated in the application documents.

Retrospective Investor Visas Review

This unprecedented retrospective review was announced at the liaison committee of the House of Commons and will affect all the investors and will not specifically be focused on the Russian citizens.

It is expected that the applications for the extension of the Tier 1 Investor visas and indefinite leave to remain (settlement) will be scrutinised by the Home Office. The risk of revocation of the current visas also exists, so any inspections and actions from the Home Office will require immediate response from the visa holders to avoid negative consequences for them and their family members.

Legal Assistance

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your particular case and relevant immigration law requirements, please contact our immigration lawyers on +44(0)20 7822 8535, by e-mail: info@sterling-law.co.uk or via our online appointment booking form.

UK Visa Fees

Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC895, 15 March 2018

The Secretary of State initiated certain changes to the Immigration Rules with the purpose to: (i) Ensure that an asylum claim can be deemed inadmissible, and not be substantively considered by the UK, if, another EU Member State has already granted the claimant international protection; (ii) make changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules relating to family life; and (iii) make the annual update to the list of Permit Free Festivals.

The below specific changes to the Immigration Rules shall take effect on 6 April 2018.

Changes relating to asylum claims

The change to Part 11 is being made to provide that an asylum claim will be deemed inadmissible, and will not be substantively considered by the UK, if another EU Member State has granted either refugee status or subsidiary protection (known collectively as international protection). This change is in line with both the UK’s established policy on safe third countries, and the EU’s objective in reducing the
secondary movements of those granted international protection.

Article 25(2)(a) of Council Directive 2005/85/EC on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status (“the Procedures Directive”) permits a Member State to apply the principle of inadmissibility to asylum claims in certain circumstances.

The rule change is made further to the Procedures Directive, in line with the stated aim of the European Union to limit secondary movements of applicants for international protection.

The UK has operated a safe third country policy for many years. Broadly, this means the identification of circumstances in which an individual has arrived in the UK and sought international protection, but where there is an alternative country that would be regarded as capable of granting sufficient protection. This policy is a key element of the UK’s asylum policy and allows the UK to prevent misuse of the asylum system.

Changes relating to family life

To clarify, in Appendix FM, that those on a 5-year route to settlement must meet all eligibility requirements, including the immigration status, financial and English language requirements, at every application stage including where indefinite leave to remain is sought after five years, in order to be granted leave under these Rules.

Changes relating to visitors

Appendix 5 to Appendix V comprises a list of events that are Permit Free Festivals. Permit Free Festivals are events that are assessed as contributing to the cultural heritage of the UK and at which performers can, exceptionally, be paid for their participation as visitors.

Visitors cannot normally receive payment from a UK source for any permitted activities they undertake here. The list has been updated for 2018/19.

Immigration Assistance

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your particular immigration case, please contact our immigration lawyers on Tel. +44(0)20 7822 8535, Mobile/Viber: 074 6338 2838, by e-mail: contact@sterling-law.co.uk or via our online appointment booking form.

Brexit negotiation update for EU citizens

An official update has been circulated by the Home Office as Brexit negotiations continue. This is the latest information on the status of EU citizens in the UK.

During the week of 19-23 March 2018, the UK and the EU have reached an agreement on what happens during the period immediately after Brexit, known as the implementation period. This is important as it will give citizens and businesses on both sides time to adjust before a new relationship with the EU is agreed.

So, what has been agreed so far and how will you be affected?

Brexit: EU citizens currently in the UK

The agreement on citizens’ rights reached in December has now been formalised into a draft Treaty text, meaning it is in the right form to be written into law.

The agreement means that if you are an EU citizen living in the UK before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 you will be able to continue to live and work in the UK. Your rights to healthcare, work arrangements and access to benefits will continue. Also, your existing close family members will be able to join you in future in the same way that they can now. You can read more here: Status of EU citizens in the UK: what you need to know.

From this week, EU citizens in the UK have been seeing digital adverts encouraging you to ‘stay informed’. The activity is part of an ongoing effort by the Government to build awareness about the agreement to protect EU citizens’ rights ahead of the roll-out of the settlement scheme.

Settlement scheme

If you are an EU citizen or family member already living in the UK, a user-friendly scheme to enable you to secure your settled status here will open later this year. But there is no rush – you will have up until 30 June 2021 to make your application.

The UK government will provide more information on the scheme and how to apply in the coming months.

Implementation period

The agreement we reached with the EU this week extends the citizens’ rights protections above to include EU citizens and their family members arriving in the UK during the implementation period (from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020). This ensures that those planning to come to the UK after March next year know what the arrangements will be. During this time, new arrivals will need to register through a new Home Office registration scheme after three months in the UK.

More information is available at UK leaving the EU: what you need to know.

Leaving the EU – Impact on Human Rights: Conference Summary Report

Sterling & Law Associates LLP were delighted to attend and participate in a high-level conference “Leaving the EU – Impact on Human Rights” organised by New Europeans[1], together with the European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH)[2], Britain in Europe[3] and Brunel University Knowing Our Rights project[4], and held in London on 16 March 2018 at Europe House

The event was organised to discuss the potential impact that Brexit would have on a number of our individuals’ rights and examine areas of human rights under threat for EU citizens and UK citizens.

The conference shed some light on key contentious areas such as workers’ rights, data protection, and family life among others. These are increasingly important topics to discuss as we move nearer and nearer towards the exit date of UK from the EU, especially when those in charge fail to provide specific indications into the details of these niche areas.

Brexit implications for human rights

There is a great fear that Brexit will lead to the regression of many of our rights. In the current state, a number of our fundamental rights derive from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European rules, regulations and directives. The Withdrawal Bill that proposes to implement Brexit could seek to remove several of those rights. For instance, in terms of employment law, the EU sits at the heart of workers’ rights[5] having brought about greater health and safety regulations that reduced the number of work days loss to absences and sick days, bringing about equal pay for equal value work and ensuring our right to parental leave. The Withdrawal Bill could possibly see the removal of these rights.

Data Protection Concerns

When it comes to data protection[6], the General Data Protection Regulation[7] (GDPR) proposed by the EU that comes into force on 25 May 2018, which has been implemented in the UK through the Data Protection Act, could lose all strength and meaning following Brexit. From an immigration perspective, the Data Protection Act includes an exception to the regulation for ‘effective immigration enforcement’. This means that if an individual is suspected of breaching immigration controls, the Home Office and other governmental agencies would be able to obtain and use personal data, that had been collected for purposes unrelated to immigration, to make a decision in regard to an individuals’ immigration status. This exemption could also mean that the Home Office would not be obliged to respond to Subject Access Requests (SARs) from people who wish to know what data has been held in relation to their previous immigration applications or situations at border controls. This is distressing because SARs are often used by legal practitioners to acquire necessary information to advise their clients on their specific circumstances, particularly when their clients do not have a clear record of their previous situations. Brexit could mean that the UK could get away with including such a wide-ranging exception into the legislation.

Photo by New Europeans

 

Family and private life

The conference also delved deeper into the impact that Brexit would have on our family and private life[8]. Research and analysis is currently being carried out into the effects on different categories of families. In the UK, 12% of all children born in the UK have at least one parent that is from the EU. After the referendum, there has been a sharp increase in the number of EU citizens in the UK applying for permanent residence applications and citizenship applications. However, while it might give you some peace of mind before the exit, the permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence will not be considered valid after Brexit. EU citizens in the UK and their family members will have to reapply for a ‘settled’ status in the UK. However, as the exact details and processes are yet to have been announced, the rights of the EU citizens in the UK and those of UK citizens abroad in other EU countries have not been guaranteed. Brexit is seeking to remove EU citizens’ and their families’ free movement and automatic rights within the UK and create an entirely new system that has yet to be executed.

These alarming possibilities after Brexit gives rise to the question, as brought up by a participant at the conference, of whether the stripping of our access to these rights given to us through the EU would amount to an infringement of our human rights in itself.

Despite what has been mentioned in this article, no one knows for certain what is going to happen to our human rights after Brexit, let alone anything else relating to the UK, EU and Brexit, but it is important to keep updated on the news to ensure that we are all prepared for the big change coming our way.

Throughout the entire conference, it has been evident that Brexit has and will bring about an unjustifiable amount of uncertainty into our lives. This uncertainty underlines the discussion with ifs, doubts and questions that cannot be answered with a simple response. It is clear that the complexity of the matter, namely what effect Brexit will have on our fundamental human rights, cannot be easily resolved. However, what we can take away from this event is that there are several organisations and individuals that are currently fighting to ensure that our intrinsic human rights are not infringed.

It is our goal at Sterling & Law Associates LLP to help individuals and families to navigate this complex area of law and to keep EU nationals updated on any changes that may affect their life.

References:

[1] New Europeans is a civil rights organisation that campaigns for freedom of movement, non-discrimination and the principle of solidarity in Europe. This is done by giving a platform to European and non-EU citizens a voice in local communities to join and take part in the Europe-wide debate regarding the challenges that we are currently faced with.

[2] AEDH is a European network of over 30 individual and organisation members to defend and promote human rights in the EU.

[3] Britain in Europe is a think tank based at Brunel University London that brings together academics, legal practitioners, and human rights NGOs across Britain and Europe to conduct research and influence public policy.

[4] The project aims to provide analysis and insight into understanding the impact and application of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK.

[5] This topic was discussed by Hannah Reed from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

[6] This topic was discussed by Gracie Bradley from Liberty, a UK human rights and civil liberties campaign group.

[7] The GDPR was proposed to unify data protection rules for individuals within the EU. It seeks to protect personal data that is stored on computers or filing systems for example by ensuring that organisations that hold your personal information need to notify you if they share it and be transparent about how they process and use that personal information. The reason why this regulation is seen to be a move forward in this area is that there are real risks that can arise from non-compliance such as fines of up to 2% – 4% of the company’s global turnover.

[8] This topic was discussed by Dr. Nando Sigona from the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham.

UK Visa Fees

UK Visa Fees from 6 April 2018

A number of changes to the UK visa fees will come into effect from 6 April 2018.

The key changes to the Home Office fees are outlined below:

  • Increased UK visa fees on growth routes (work, study and visit) by 4%.
  • Increased fees on most non-growth routes (nationality, settlement, family) and most associated premium services by 4%.
  • The fee for the overseas optional ‘Priority Visa’ service for entry clearance will increase by 15%.

The government has not made any changes to fees under the sponsorship system. UK visa fees for entry clearance to enter the Channel Islands and Isle of Man will rise in line with fee changes seen in the rest of the UK.

UK visa fees for all applications made from outside and within the UK

TYPE OF APPLICATION

FEE, GBP 

Outside / Inside UK before 6 April 2018

FEE, GBP

Outside / Inside UK after 6 April 2018

Tier 1 Investor £1,561 £1,623
Tier 1 Entrepreneur £982 / £1,228 £1,021 / £1,277
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur £349 / £474 £363 / £493
Tier 2 – 3 years £587 / £677 £610 / £704
Tier 2 – 5 years £1,174 / £1,354 £1,220 / £1,408
Sponsorship License Application  £536 £536
Tier 4 £335 / £457 £348 / £475
Tier 5 £235 £244
Family Settlement (Spouse Visa) £1,464 / NA £1,523 / NA
FLR (FP, O, M, S) NA / £993 NA / £1,033
MN-1 (Registration child – British Citizenship) £973 £1,012
AN (Naturalisation – British Citizenship) £1,282 £1,330
Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) £1,464 / £2,297 £1,523 / £2,389
Other dependant relative £3,250 / NA £3,250 / NA
Visit visa – short up to 6 months £89 / NA £93 / NA
Visit visa – long up to 2 years £337 / NA £350 / NA
Visit visa – long up to 5 years £612 / NA £636 / NA
Visit visa – long up to 10 years

£767 / NA

 £798 / NA
EEA Applications (all forms)

free / £65

free / £65

A full list of the new UK Immigration, Visa and Nationality Fees can be found on www.gov.uk

Other relevant changes and updates

NHS Immigration Health Surcharge will increase to £400 a year in 2018

New Fees 2018: British Passport Applications

Deadline for employers (Tier 2 sponsors) – 5 April 2018

New Online Application System launched for Tier 2 migrants and PBS dependants

Changes to the Immigration Rules 2018

Immigration Assistance

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your particular case, applicable fees and relevant immigration law requirements, please contact our immigration lawyers on Tel. +44(0)20 7822 8535, Mobile/Viber: 074 6338 2838, by e-mail: contact@sterling-law.co.uk or via our online appointment booking form.

Insurmountable obstacles rule featured in Appendix FM of Immigration Rules in cases concerning partner relationships

The application and interpretation of the “insurmountable obstacles” rule aims for a balance between the Article 8 rights and the legitimate aims of immigration control. The Rules therefore account for the cases where people apply for a leave to remain as partners and the following applies:

“(b) the applicant has a genuine and subsisting relationship with a partner who is in the UK and is a British citizen, settled in the UK or in the UK with refugee leave or humanitarian protection, and there are insurmountable obstacles to family life with that partner continuing outside the UK.”

“Insurmountable obstacles” are defined as very serious difficulties, which would be faced by the applicant or their partner in continuing their family life together outside the UK and which could not be overcome or would entail very serious hardship for the applicant or their partner. Therefore, the focus is on the difficulties to be faced by the couple in continuing their family life outside the UK.

Although this entails a high test, it does not mean literally insurmountable obstacles. In practice, interpretation of this rule is practical and realistic. In establishing insurmountable obstacles, the following factors may be taken into consideration, as per Jeunesse v Netherlands [2014] ECHR 1036:

  • Whether family life would be effectively ruptured;
  • Whether there are any ties in the Contracting State (and their extent);
  • Factors of immigration control (eg, history of immigration law breaches);
  • Public order

There are a few other considerations that can influence the application of insurmountable obstacles to a particular case.  

  • Firstly, it is important if the applicant’s stay in the UK is unlawful or precarious. This affects the weight attached to the public interest in removing the person from the UK. Accordingly, the weight of public interest is determined by the outcome of immigration control over the applicant.  This can be illustrated by two contrasting scenarios. If the applicant’s stay in the UK was unlawful and they would be deported as a foreign criminal, the public interest in their removal is elevated. By contrast, if it is certain that the applicant would be granted leave to enter the UK after being removed, the interest in such removal is diminished, as illustrated by the Chikwamba rule.
  • Secondly, a less stringent approach might be appropriate if the applicant and their partner were under a reasonable misapprehension of their ability to maintain a family life in the UK. In practice, this would apply, for example, in cases when someone is brought to the UK as a child and not informed of their immigration status.

Nevertheless, even though it is established that the test of insurmountable obstacles is high, the Agyarko case also notes that if the test is not met, but the refusal of the application would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences, the refusal will be disproportionate and a leave granted under “exceptional circumstances”. Therefore, despite a high threshold of the test, there are many factors that affect the decision of a court or tribunal when each individual case is being decided.

New Immigration, Visa and Nationality Fees 2018-19

Legislation was laid in Parliament on 16 March 2018 which sets out a number of changes to immigration, visa and nationality fees.

These changes will come into effect on 6 April 2018.

Careful consideration is given to individual fees to help reduce the funding contribution from UK taxpayers, whilst continuing to provide and invest in a service that remains attractive to our customers and competitive with other countries.

The key changes are outlined below:

  • Increased fees on growth routes (work, study and visit) by 4%.
  • Increased fees on most non-growth routes (nationality, settlement, family) and most associated premium services by 4%.
  • The fee for the overseas optional ‘Priority Visa’ service for entry clearance will increase by 15%.
  • For the fourth year running, there will be no any changes to fees under the sponsorship system.
  • Fees for entry clearance to enter the Channel Islands and Isle of Man will rise in line with fee changes seen in the rest of the UK.

A full list of the new fees can be found on www.gov.uk

Inappropriate behaviour of Immigration Officers during enforcement visit supported by Upper Tribunal Judgement

Appeal against removal directions on the grounds of undergoing a sham marriage is dismissed after the Upper Tribunal judge finds the claims about inappropriate behaviour of Immigration Officers (IOs) during an enforcement visit unfounded.

The Appellant is an Egyptian national entered into a marriage with an EEA national whilst overstaying in the UK after his 6-month visitor visa expired. The Appellant had removal directions issued against him after an enforcement visit to the place he was temporarily residing at.

It was alleged by the Appellant that the IOs were behaving in a threatening manner and did not follow the procedure required by law, namely the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) requirement to give the Appellant a criminal caution.

The Respondent disputed the allegations about the inappropriate behaviour of the IOs and argued that PACE guidance did not apply in the present case because the situation concerned an administrative rather than criminal procedure.

Having reviewed the evidence available, the Judge found that the Appellant’s claims and criticisms of the IOs’ conduct to be unreliable, and supported the Respondent’s argument that PACE guidelines did not apply to the present case, thus ruling that the IOs did not breach PACE by failing to give the Appellant a criminal caution.

The distinction between criminal and civil proceedings was crucial to uphold to avoid the confusion between the two very different sets of rules.

The case, nevertheless, is very helpful at reminding us about the procedure the IO need to follow when making an enforcement visit. It notes that the Secretary of State made a Codes of Practice Direction in 2013, which states that:

  • A person, suspected of an offence, must be cautioned before any questions about an offence are put to them. There is no need to be cautioned, however, if questions refer to other necessary purposes, such as obtaining information by a statutory requirement.
  • The person must be told that they are not under arrest and informed about how they may obtain legal advice.
  • The caution must be in the following terms: “You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
  • The caution should not be given when the questioning is intended to establish basic facts such as identity, however the purpose of questioning must be identified.
  • If a reasonable suspicion that the person in question is liable to be held in immigration detention arises out of known information, person’s actions or information discovered during the enquiry, and the person must be arrested, they must be given the administrative explanation or criminal caution.
  • The arrest must be necessary to progress the case
    • It is unlikely that arrest would be appropriate if the person’s immigration status is known and no progression on the case will be made by arresting them.
  • The person under arrest must be informed that:
    • They are under arrest and not free to leave;
    • The reason for the arrest;
    • Why it is necessary to arrest them.
  • Where IOs use criminal powers to make an arrest they must comply with PACE
    • To have a criminal power of arrest, IOs must have a genuine intention to prosecute the individual and have reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has committed or attempted to commit a criminal offence
  • Where IOs use administrative powers to make an arrest, they must notify the person of their detention and reasons for it as per Immigration Act 1971.