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There have been a number of interesting developments this week in the immigration field including very interesting immigration statistics that have been released. A summary has been provided below.

Guidance updates from the Upper Tribunal and Home Office:

Updated modernised guidance for how UK Visas and Immigration prepares and gives evidence in court, and what it expects when it gives evidence: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/giving-evidence-in-court

New joint Presidential Guidance 2019 No 1: Permission to appeal to UTIAC: It replaces the guidance note 2011 No 1, as amended in 2013 and 2014: https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/joint-presidential-guidance-2019-no-1-permission-to-appeal-to-utiac/
  1. The guidance is for judges considering whether to grant permission to appeal from a decision of the First-tier Tribunal IAC to the Upper Tribunal. It is also intended to inform interested parties
  2. The consideration of an application for permission to appeal is a judicial decision for the individual judge performing it. The guidance does not modify or replace the legal obligations of a judge considering such a matter.
  3. The guidance is, in particular, intended to assist judges in their task by drawing attention to case law and commonly occurring issues, as well as reflecting the experience of those judges who have been undertaking this function, whether as judges of the First-tier Tribunal or the Upper Tribunal.

Updated visit guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visit-guidance

Guidance about the different visitor categories for visiting the UK and how UK Visas and Immigration makes decisions on visitor cases


New Windrush Compensation Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/windrush-compensation-scheme

You may be able to claim compensation through the Windrush Compensation Scheme if you suffered a loss because you could not demonstrate your lawful right to live in the UK.

Immigration related news:

Independent Monitoring Board concerned by increase in self-harm and detention of those with mental health conditions at Morton Hall: https://www.ein.org.uk/news/independent-monitoring-board-concerned-increase-self-harm-and-detention-those-mental-health

“The Board notes the significant increase in the number of incidents of self-harm (181 in 2017; 217 in 2018). During the second quarter of 2018, there were a number of prolific self-harmers; during the third quarter of the year three detainees were responsible for one third of 34 incidents. In a number of instances, acts of self-harm were said by detainees involved to have been promoted by a feeling of frustration and uncertainty about being held in detention.”

“A number of detainees are held at Morton Hall even though they are categorised ‘adults at risk’, arising from the likes of a mental health condition/impairment, a serious physical disability or, possibly, been a victim of torture or violence. During 2018, at any one time, there was an average of 42 detainees at Morton Hall where there was professional evidence indicating such conditions (level two adults at risk). Moreover, on occasions during the year, there were men judged to be at level three where professional evidence indicated that a period of detention is likely to cause them harm. Taking twelve snapshot data points, on the first day of each month, there were two occasions when this was the case. On the first day of July 2018, two detainees were designated level three; on the first day of September there was one.”


NGOs concerned by backlog as number of asylum applications in year ending June 2019 increases by 21% to reach over 32,000

https://www.ein.org.uk/news/ngos-concerned-backlog-number-asylum-applications-year-ending-june-2019-increases-21-reach

Asylum applications totalled 32,693 in the year ending June 2019, though the Home Office notes that this remains lower the year ending June 2016. The top 10 countries of origin were Iran, Iraq, Albania, Eritrea, Pakistan, Sudan, India, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

“We are increasingly concerned about the rise in delays during the asylum process, as reflected in the number of people awaiting an initial decision for more than six months and those cases that remain unresolved. We urge the Home Office to address these delays as a matter of urgency.”


The Independent investigates Home Office’s outsourcing of visa applications to Dubai-based multinational VFG Global

https://www.ein.org.uk/news/independent-investigates-home-offices-outsourcing-visa-applications-dubai-based-multinational

An investigation by The Independent and Finance Uncovered found that the Home Office has made £1.6bn from visa applicants since outsourcing the majority of overseas visa services in 2014. According to The Independent, the profit the Home Office makes on average for each visa application has increased in that time from £28.73 to £122.56.


French chef’s struggle to get settled status after 31 years in UK: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/30/french-chef-richard-bertinet-settled-status-uk


Rise in EU citizens not getting UK settled status causes alarm: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/30/eu-citizens-uk-settled-status-alarm

“But since the scheme began the proportion of people being granted pre-settled status rather than settled status – and therefore finding themselves in a more precarious position, without the guaranteed permanent right to remain – has risen from 32% during the testing phase up to 34% in the month after the national launch in March, and to 42% in July.”

“In the past week a number of long-term UK residents have gone public with their concerns that they have been wrongly given pre-settled status. Among them was the chef Richard Bertinet, who has lived in the UK since 1998 and said he felt “betrayed”. Meanwhile the pro-Brexit Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan warned that he was seeing EU nationals being denied settled status, despite years of residence in the UK, and called on the home secretary to address this “before we end up with another Windrush scandal”.


Home Office advert for residency banned for misleading EU citizens: Watchdog says radio ad stating only passport or ID card needed for form not sufficiently clear

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/27/home-office-settlement-scheme-ad-banned-misleading-eu-citizens

“Listeners would likely understand that an official application process of this nature would always require some applicants to provide further information in exceptional cases,” the ASA said in its ruling.

“However, we understood that in 27% of decided adult cases, applicants had been asked to provide documents as evidence of residence. Furthermore, some applicants were also asked for other documents, such as evidence of a family relationship.”

“While we acknowledged that applicants were not required specifically to submit ‘proof of address’ (as referenced by the complainant), some were required to submit further documents beyond those stated in the ad.”

“We considered that the actual proportion who were asked to submit further documents was likely to go beyond what the audience was likely to understand from the claim. In that context, we considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that, in some cases, applicants would need to supply documents beyond their passport or ID card.”


Summary of latest immigration statistics UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-year-ending-march-2019/summary-of-latest-statistics

Work:

The total number of work-related visas granted (including dependants) in the year ending March 2019 increased by 11% (or 18,461) to 181,093. Around three quarters of the increase can be accounted for by the increase in Skilled (Tier 2) work visas. This category accounts for the majority (59%) of work-related visas granted.

There was an increase in Tier 2 work visas granted in the year ending March 2019, up 15% to 106,524.

Study:

In the year ending March 2019, there were 243,937 Sponsored study (Tier 4) visas granted (including dependants), a 9% increase, or 20,363 more than the previous year, and the highest level since 2011.

Over the same period, Sponsored study visa applications for the Higher education (university) sector increased by 10% to 196,350, the highest level on record, accounting for 85% of all Sponsored study visa applications.

Family:

There were 162,254 visas granted for family reasons in the year ending March 2019, 21% more than in the previous year. The total included:

  • 48,313 visas for family-related reasons, 20% higher than the previous year, which partly reflects the inclusion of children of a parent given limited leave to enter or remain in the UK for a probationary period in this category from December 2017 (previously included as ‘dependants on other visas’)
  • 73,333 dependants of people coming to the UK on other types of visas (excluding Visitor visas), up 11%
  • 40,608 EEA Family permits, up 46% compared with the previous year following a fall in the year ending March 2018
How many people do we grant asylum or protection to?

The UK offered protection – in the form of grants of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement – to 17,304 people in the year ending March 2019 (up 22%). This was the highest number of people granted protection in the UK in a single year since the year ending September 2003.

The Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) accounted for three-quarters (4,328) of the 5,794 refugees resettled in the UK in the year ending March 2019. Since it began in 2014, 15,977 people have been resettled under the scheme. A further 687 were resettled under the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) over the last year.

There were 31,589 asylum applications in the UK (main applicants only) in the year ending March 2019, 18% more than the previous year but below the level seen in the year ending March 2016 during the European migration crisis.

The grant rate (percentage of initial decisions which were grants of asylum, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave) was 39%, compared with 30% in the previous year.

Settlement:

There were 92,636 decisions on applications for settlement in the UK in the year ending March 2019, 21% more than in the previous year.

Of these, 89,146 resulted in a grant, a grant rate of 96%. In particular, grants for family reasons more than doubled, reflecting family rule changes in July 2012 that increased the qualifying period for settlement from 2 to 5 years. Individuals on a 5-year route to settlement following the rule change are now becoming eligible to apply.

Immigration detention:

At the end of March 2019, there were 1,839 people held in the detention estate, a third (33%) less than a year earlier.

In the year ending March 2019, 24,333 individuals entered the detention estate, 8% fewer than the previous year and the lowest level since comparable records began in 2009.

Over the same period, 25,201 left the detention estate (down 8%). Over two-thirds (71%) of these were detained for less than 29 days and 4% were detained for more than 6 months. The Home Office would usually only detain someone for more than 6 months if they are a foreign national offender (FNO), or if they have subsequently claimed asylum while in detention.

Returns:

There were 8,637 enforced returns from the UK in the year ending March 2019, 25% fewer than the previous year (11,509). The fall was largely accounted for by falls in:

  • Enforced returns of people who were in detention prior to their return, which fell by 23% to 7,699 compared with 9,963 in the previous year
  • Enforced returns for both EU nationals (down 883 to 3,637) and non-EU nationals (down 1,989 to 5,000). EU nationals accounted for 42% of enforced returns throughout the year and the majority (56%) of these were Romanian and Polish nationals

 

Zainul Jafferji

Specialist Immigration Barrister and Head of Chambers at Clarendon Park Chambers.

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