On 1 July 2008, the UK Border Agency reported that over 2,400 'foreign criminals' have been removed from the UK since January 2008.
The Agency was set the target of removing 5,000 foreign criminals in 2008, and the Government said it is confident the challenge will be met. The removal of over 2,400 foreign prisoners is an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same time last year. It is also the highest number of removals for the first six months of any year. This is in comparison to the 4,200 foreign prisoners removed by the Agency in 2007. In the first half of 2008 the UKBA has removed 15 murderers, 137 sex offenders and 844 drug offenders.
New rules for short term visitors
On 25 June 2008, the Government announced tough new sanctions for people who fail to ensure family members visiting from abroad leave before the expiry of their visa. People will have to become licensed to sponsor family members to visit from abroad under proposed changes to the visa system. Sponsors will have a duty to ensure that their visitors leave before their visa runs out. If sponsors fail in their duties, they face a ban on bringing anyone else over, penalties of up to £5,000 or a jail sentence.
UN Refugee Agency concerned over asylum decision-making
On 1 July 2008, the UNHCR issued findings from its fifth audit report on the UK asylum system, focusing on asylum decision-making in detention centres. UNHCR's latest audit highlights serious concerns with the UK Border Agency's 'fast track' refugee status determination process in Yarl's Wood and Harmondsworth detention centres, and found that the emphasis on quick decision-making does not allow caseworkers to reach well-reasoned decisions on some individual cases.
"The tight time-frame for decisions - which are usually made within three days of an asylum seeker's arrival at a detention centre - often results in cases not being given full consideration", said Jacqueline Parlevliet, head of UNHCR's office in London.
According to UNHCR, some decisions within the Detained Fast Track demonstrate a limited understanding of key concepts in refugee law and do not engage sufficiently with the specific facts of the individual claims, for example in relation to gender issues. Whilst the Home Office does have mechanisms in place to safeguard the most vulnerable applicants, UNHCR is concerned that UK Border Agency staff are not using the discretion available to them to extend the timescale for decision-making in order to consider applications in greater detail.
Read the full report click here
Independent Asylum Commission demands 'new deal' on returns
On 30 June 2008, the Independent Asylum Commission called for a "new deal for safe and secure returns" of failed asylum seekers, including an end to destitution for the group. In a report, Safe return, the commission said the current system for removals did not meet adequate standards of humanity, effectiveness and public confidence. It said the policy of removing access to public funds from most refused asylum seekers to encourage them to return actually decreased the likelihood of people leaving the UK voluntarily, while losing the government "moral authority".
It also criticised the system of "section 4" support for those who cannot return home, saying it did not meet the needs of vulnerable people and that vouchers were "ineffective, costly and stigmatizing". The report found that just one in five failed asylum-seekers - of which there are an estimated 283,500 in the UK - left voluntarily but that forced removals were too expensive, traumatic and time-consuming to be effective for everyone denied sanctuary.
Read the full report click here
Beoku-Betts v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 39 - The House of Lords held that section 65 of Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 requires the appellate authorities, in determining whether the appellant's article 8 rights have been breached, to take into account the effect of his proposed removal upon all the members of his family unit.
E B Kosovo (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 41 - The House of Lords considered the relevance of delay in the context of Article 8. Firstly, an applicant may during the period of any delay develop closer personal and social ties and establish deeper roots in the community than he could have shown earlier. The longer the period of the delay, the likelier this is to be true. Secondly, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal should consider whether, and to what extent, a delay in resolving his asylum claim, and the manner of its handling, were relevant when considering the proportionality of an immigration decision. Thirdly, delay may be relevant in reducing the weight otherwise to be accorded to the requirements of firm and fair immigration control, if the delay is shown to be the result of a dysfunctional system which yields unpredictable, inconsistent and unfair outcomes.
Chikwamba (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 40 - The House of Lords held that it would only be comparatively rarely, certainly in family cases involving children, that article 8 appeals should be dismissed on the basis that it would be proportionate and more appropriate for the appellant to apply for leave to enter the United Kingdom from abroad.
AL (Serbia) and Rudi v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKHL 42 - The difference in treatment effected by the Family Indefinite Leave to Remain concession between children entering the United Kingdom with their families and those entering without were justified, and the concession did not offend against the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.14.
AY [Political parties - SCP - risk] Sudan CG  UKAIT 00050 - In a country guidance case about the risk to political activists in Sudan, the AIT stated:
1. Opposition parties are allowed to function within relatively narrow parameters in Sudan; 2. The Sudanese authorities do not seek or even attempt to take action which could amount to persecution against all political opponents but in the main they seek to control by the use of fear and intimidation. Depending on the particular circumstances of an individual, they may resort to stronger measures, particularly against those actively engaged in building up grass roots democracy, working in support of human rights and involved in open criticism of the regime's core ideology and philosophy; 3. In general it will be difficult for ordinary members and supporters of the Sudanese Communist Party or any other political party to establish a claim for asylum. They will need to show that they have been engaged in specific activities likely to bring them to the attention of the adverse authorities such as active and effective local democratic activity or support for particular human rights activities. Whether any individual political activist is at risk will necessarily depend upon his individual circumstances set within the context of the situation as at the date of decision. This will include an assessment of the nature of the activities carried out and how they will be seen by the authorities; 4. The legal status of an opposition party has no significant bearing in itself on whether an individual is likely to be at risk of persecution. Political activities also take place under the guise of cultural associations
SB (family visit appeal: brother-in-law) Pakistan  UKAIT 00053 - The relationship of brother (or sister-)-in-law between an appellant and sponsor falls within the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2003 where the sponsor is the sibling of the Appellant's spouse but not where the appellant's brother or sister is married to the sponsor in the UK.
KA (EEA: family permit; admission) Sudan  UKAIT 00052 - Article 5 of the Citizens Directive (Council Directive 2004/38/EC) does not confer an unqualified right of pre-entry, entry or residence on family members of a Union citizen exercising Treaty rights. Family members are required to have an entry visa in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 or, where appropriate, with national law. The United Kingdom has chosen to impose a visa requirement in the form of an EEA family permit regime, and hence if a family member arrives at a United Kingdom border without an EEA family permit and seeks admission, he must satisfy the requirements of regulation 11 of the 2006 Regulations. Whether a person is entitled to a right of admission under regulation 11 depends on his being able to produce relevant documentation on that occasion (or within a reasonable period of time thereafter).
G Omerenma Obed & 7 Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 747 - The grant of clearance to enter the United Kingdom as a student did not confine the entrant to a particular course of study. The secretary of state no authority to impose conditions on a student entrant as to the course he was to follow. Further, failing an examination did not always negate the making of satisfactory progress in a course of study within the meaning of the Immigration Rules r.60(v).
Garden Court Chambers Seminars
Crime and Immigration: the overlap
Thursday 17 July 2008 from 18:30 to 20:00
Speakers: Shereener Browne, Garden Court Chambers, Louise Hooper, Garden Court Chambers, Anna Rothwell, Wilson and Co.
1.5 CPD hours
The seminar will address the increasing use of criminal proceedings by the Home office against immigration detainees; the criminal offences immigration detainees, asylum seekers and other foreign nationals are commonly charged with and will discuss best practice in representing those charged with such offences.
ILPA Training Courses
Update: Article 8 (DT 1072)
Thursday 10 July 2008, LEEDS, 2-5.15pm
Speakers: Steve Symonds, ILPA
3 CPD hours
Fee:ILPA members £120, CR*£60, Non members £240
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is increasingly invoked in all areas of immigration and asylum law, from protection cases to family cases to those involved unwarranted interference with the rights of an individual. The trainers will draw together the many strands of caselaw to provide a comprehensive guide to the way article 8 is playing out in the both the higher courts and the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, and provide a guide to practice and best practice in Article 8 applications. Suitable for intermediate and advanced level attendees and essential for all those who wish to be at the forefront of using Article 8 to benefit their clients.
Tier 2 and Sponsorship - update (DT 1080)
Thursday 17 July 2008, Leeds, 2-5.15pm
Speakers: Julia Onslow-Cole, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal LLP
3 CPD hours
Fee: ILPA members £180, CR*£120, Non members £360
A repeat of our well-received session which was first held on 22 May 2008 - with updates. This course will give detailed practical guidance on how to complete a sponsorship licence application set within an explanation of Tier 2 including examination of the requirements for Tier 2 General and Intra-Company Transfer applications. Our speakers have both been closely involved in the negotiations around the development of Tier 2 and in the Sponsorship Pilot and will draw on this practical experience to provide a very hands-on guide to working on individual applications for clients. Participants at the course in May described it as 'Excellent lecture', 'extremely useful.'
HJT Training Courses
Advocacy & Challenging the AIT by Sandra Akinbolu and HJT Training
When: Tue July 08 from 09:30 to 16:30 CPD: 6 Location: Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD
Price: £ 160.00 plus vat - Normal Price; £ 110.00 plus vat - for NFP, academics, pupil barristers, trainee solicitors & students
Benefit from two subject matters in one course. First part offers an opportunity to develop and practice key skills using examples form real cases, advice on preparation tactics and ethical issues. Practical workshop includes two mock hearings, involving asylum and entry clearance. The latter part is designed to assist delegates to draft grounds that have a good prospect of success in obtaining reconsideration and understand when fresh evidence can be used.