The UK Border Agency has announced that on the 27th November 2008, tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system will open for applications. As these tiers open the schemes which they are set to replace will close down. more info
The Legal Services Commission has published its response to the Bar Council's 'Legal Aid and the Public Interest' and 'Serving the Public Interest' papers, published earlier this year. The Bar Council had set out its concerns for the future of legal aid and specifically barristers who are committed to practicing in areas reliant upon the LSC for funding. more info
The new Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, has called for a mature debate on the future of immigration to the United Kingdom. As opening remarks in this debate, Mr Woolas has accused lawyers and charities working with asylum seekers of playing the system and undermining the law. more info
He has also suggested that the consequence of Spain's amnesty for unauthorised immigrants was "more dead bodies on the beach of people coming over from Africa". news story
Mr Woolas has also suggested that he will limit the right to judicial review for immigration and asylum cases. news story
You can read the Refugee Council's response to Phil Woolas' remarks here.
There were three new Country Guidance cases this week. In RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG  UKAIT 00083 the Tribunal found that those at risk on return to Zimbabwe on account of imputed political opinion are no longer restricted to perceived members or supporters of the MDC, but include anyone who is unable to demonstrate support for or loyalty to the regime or Zanu-PF. Teachers in Zimbabwe are also targets for persecution. As many teachers have fled to avoid retribution, the fact of being a teacher or having been a teacher in the past again is capable of raising an enhanced risk. Finally, the living conditions for some may have deteriorated sufficiently to raise the possibility of it amounting to cruel and degrading treatment under Art 3 ECHR.
In SB (PSG, Protection Regulations, Reg 6) Moldova CG  UKAIT 00002, the Tribunal held that "Former victims of trafficking" and "former victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation" are capable of being members of a particular social group within regulation 6(1)(d) of the Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006, because of their shared common background or past experience of having been trafficked.
The guidance in FS Iran CG  UKIAT 00303 was substantively upheld in SZ and JM (Christians, FS confirmed) Iran CG  UKAIT 00082. However, SZ and JM found that for some converts to sacrament-based churches the conditions may be such that they could not reasonably be expected to return and their cases must be considered on HJ (homosexuality: reasonably tolerating living discreetly) Iran  UKAIT 00044 grounds.
The Immigration (Biometric Registration) (Objection to Civil Penalty) Order 2008, which is to come into force on 25th November 2008, sets out the expected form and contents of an objection to a civil penalty notice under S.9(1) of the UK Border Act 2007. more info