19-08-19 – Online asylum appeals to be rolled out nationwide in 2020

According to the courts and tribunals service for England and Wales asylum appeals will be filed and managed entirely online from 2020. The online appeal system aims to make the process of challenging an asylum system more efficient and less paper-bound. The focus is on electronic document upload, digitised case management and early online resolution rather than the final hearing on a webcam. In accordance with HMCTS “appeals will be submitted electronically by legal representatives and will be received instantaneously by both HMCTS and the Home Office. The appeals will then progress digitally via the on line service from initial application, through to hearing and judicial decision”. Digital asylum appeals are currently being piloted at Manchester and Taylor House immigration centres with the involvement of six solicitors’ firms. The pilot will be expanded to Bradford and Newport in September 2019, and further rolled out to Birmingham and Hatton Cross by the end of the year. The further national rollout will only be for cases where the appellant has legal representation. According to HMCTS a separate service is being developed for unrepresented appellants, which will begin pilot testing in early 2020.

15-08-19 – Asylum seeker was not “feminine” enough to be gay according to an immigration judge

An asylum seeker’s immigration claim was rejected because the judge came to the conclusion that the claimant did not have a gay “demeanour” and did not “look around the court room in an effeminate manner”. According to Leila Zadeh, a CEO of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) there have been other precedents when asylum seekers’ claims were rejected based on stereotypes, such as that a female claimant did not have short enough hair to be a lesbian or judges did not believe claimants’ sexual orientation because they did not have sex with multiple partners. In 2017 only 33% of asylum appeals based on sexual orientation were successful which was below the average for all asylum appeals which was 40% last year.

13-08-19 – A significant increase in Home Office fees

Application fees for British citizenship have increased significantly over the past 5 years. The Times have stated that the Home Office profits have increased by nearly 91%. The applicants must pay £1012 and the Home Office receives profits in the amount of £640 from each application. According to the critics, the profits received by the Home Office show that it still continues to operate a hostile policy despite the fact it abolished it after the “Windrush scandal” when thousands of illegal immigrants’ bank accounts were heavily scrutinised. The increase in fees had a particularly significant effect on the children of migrant parents who were born in Britain or moved here when they were young. Boris Johnson has appealed to review the system and warned that thousands of applicants are at risk because of the potential repeat of the “Windrush scandal”.

12-08-19 – Changes in the UK law offer hopes for adopting families

It is likely that changes in UK law will soon facilitate the process of children adopted by EU citizens in Muslim states reuniting with their families in the UK. At present, the so-called “Kafala” rules operate in many Muslim countries, according to which the full adoption of children is prohibited. In the case of SM (Algeria) v Entry Clearance Officer [2018] UKSC 9, a French couple could not obtain permission for their adoptive daughter from Algeria to enter the UK for a very long time, because, according to the existing Kafala rules, she was not a direct descending relative, but just a distant relative. The former receive an automatic right to enter the UK, while visa applications of the latter are heavily scrutinized. In accordance with the new Resolution 8 (1A) introduced by the 2019 Immigration Regulations, applicants, in addition to the adoption decision, must show, in particular, that the child: -Lived with an EU citizen from the moment the adoption decision was taken; -Became a member of an EU citizen’s family; -Developed relations with an EU citizen, meaning that the EU citizen bears parental responsibility, as well as legal and financial responsibility for the child.  Naturally, the new legislation was a big step forward for many people who adopted children from Muslim countries. At the same time, it will still be very difficult to gather evidence for parents of very young children.

09-08-19 – Fast-track immigration for top scientists

Boris Johnson has promised to cancel any restrictions related to visa entries for the leading scientists to counteract any fears that the reputation of the science hub in Britain could be seriously damaged by the upcoming Brexit. The prime minister will give tasks to the Home Office and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to develop a new strategy plan for the world’s scientists’ ease of entry into Britain, starting with the employees of prestigious educational establishments and finishing with students who show great potential, for example, the students who won mathematical Olympics. Sceptics believe that this announcement should have been made immediately after the referendum as the country has lost a lot of reputable scientists and researchers since the referendum results.

30-07-19 – UK government lifts Tier 2 visa annual cap for PhD applicants

The UK government will remove the Tier 2 visa limit for scientists and researchers with PhD qualifications. First time this proposal was announced by David Cameron in October 2011. Besides, the Home Office will add a new exception in requirements for obtaining ILR status for those who were absent in the country more than 180 days in every continuous residency periods of 12 months. Excessive absence will not be a reason for refusal if it is related to “research activities abroad.” The new changes will come into force this autumn in attempt to attract “the brightest and best” especially in the c...

24-07-19 – Launch of judicial review against the Home Office regarding the refusal to provide personal data of EU citizens

The3million and the Open Rights Group activists have filed an application with the High Court for a judicial review of the UK government refusal to provide European citizens with access to their personal data stored in the Home Office in connection to their immigration cases. Activists claim that the provision in the Data Protection Act 2018 illegally excludes the rights of EU citizens to receive private information that is owned by third parties. During the hearings, it turned out that 60% of requests for disclosure of EU citizens' data were rejected from the beginning of 2019 referring to th...

22-07-19 – Deadlines for filing acknowledgement of judicial review’s service

The Upper Tribunal in case of Sutharsan (UT rule 29(1): time limit) [2019] UKUT 217 (IAC) reviewed the interpretation of the rule regarding the deadline for filing service acknowledgement of judicial review application. The rule itself requires the Home Office to confirm receipt of the application no later than 21 days after the applicant has provided them with a copy of it. Though it is not entirely clear what exactly the word "provided" means: the date when the applicant sent the documents or the date when Home Office physically received it.  The Tribunal ruled that the 21-day period begins...

17-07-19 – Mandatory requirement of individual assessment for EU citizens waiting for deportation

The Court of Appeal in the case of R (Lauzikas) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 1168 ruled out that the Home Office can not detain an EU citizen who is awaiting deportation from the UK without first assessing whether doing so is a “proportionate and necessary” measure in accordance with EU Law. Any decision to detain the person cannot be justified only by his/her previous charges. On the contrary, Home Office should conduct individual assessment of the situation before or immediately after the detention of an EU citizen.

05-07-19 – Sopra Steria no longer provides immigration consultation services

The outsourcing company Sopra Steria, which is responsible for processing visa applications filed in the UK, has stopped offering immigration counselling to its applicants after numerous complaints from solicitors. The UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services, acting on behalf of the Home office through French company Sopra Steria, advertised legal assistance to visa applicants for a separate fee. They recommended a company, World Migration Services, which is owned by BLS International. It is worth to mention that BLS itself handles the processing of visas applications as a subcontractor o...