November 8, 2017

The new settled status scheme for EU citizens and their family members-info letter from Home office

Dear Mr. Brandon Bell,

Today, the Government has set out further details of how the new settled status scheme for EU citizens and their family members will operate as the UK leaves the EU.
In a technical document sent to the European Commission as part of the negotiations, the Government reiterates how the new system will be streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly, with EU citizens consulted on its design.

EU citizens applying to stay in the UK after Brexit will have plenty of time, up to two years after the UK has left the EU, to obtain settled status.
Those applying to stay in the UK after we leave the EU will not have their applications refused on minor technicalities and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion where appropriate.
The new system will minimise the documentary evidence required and EU citizens will not be required to provide fingerprints as part of the application process.
Decisions will be based solely on the criteria set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, with no discretion for other reasons for refusal. EU citizens will also be given a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the Free Movement Directive, if their application is unsuccessful.
The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for negotiations and she said last month that an agreement is within touching distance.

Negotiation between the UK and EU is continuing and the next talks will take place this week on 9 and 10 November. We will continue to keep you updated on further progress.

Yours sincerely,
Home Office

November 8, 2017

Immigration appeal waiting times rise 13%, now take a year on average

No doubt that professional service at Immmigration Tribunals are getting worse ad worse every yea.
Apart from poor and and unprofessional Customer service and employees who work for little salaries give less service then ever, overloaded judges and nervous clerks are additional problem. But more worrying is that the average immigration appeal takes almost 12 months to be resolved, up 13% on the same period last year.
Appeal waiting times continue to rise.

This is despite the fact that less than half as many people now have the chance to challenge Home Office decisions. The number of appeals handled by the immigration tribunal has fallen from around 20,000 to 8,000 – a startling 60% fall – since the Immigration Act 2014 was passed.

Immigration and asylum appeals at the First-tier Tribunal took 51 weeks to be resolved in April-June 2017 – the latest period for which data is available – according to the Ministry of Justice. That represents an increase of seven weeks on the same period last year.

Looking across the whole financial year, first-tier appeals took three months longer in 2016/17 than they did in 2015/16.

There is a silver lining in the figures for asylum appeals specifically. Cases took 29 weeks to be cleared in April-June 2017, compared to 38 weeks in April-June 2016.

We can no longer usefully compare some other categories of appeal. For example, on the face of the statistics “family visit visa” appeals appear to take 194 weeks! But this category, along with “managed migration” and “entry clearance”, is being phased out. There were only four family visa appeals decided in the last quarter, and zero new receipts, so the average is at this point meaningless.

All appeals are now being consolidated under “human rights”, “EEA free movement” or “other”, along with the existing “asylum” heading. These are the only relevant headings to consult in the data.

This change means that only the overall average and the consistent “asylum” category of appeals can be compared over time. Practitioners and clients will find plenty to be concerned about even without a point of reference. EEA free movement appeals take 45 weeks, for example.

All 52 weeks
Asylum/protection 29 weeks
Human rights 60 weeks
EEA free movement 45 weeks
Other (including deportation and deprivation of citizenship) 36 weeks
This would be one thing if appeals were a frivolous shot in the dark. But they in are, in fact, an integral part of the immigration system’s decision making. Almost half (47%) of appeals decided by a First-tier Tribunal judge were allowed in the most recent quarter.

It remains to be seen whether this roughly 50/50 split will be sustained through the rest of the year. If so, it would represent a return to the situation that prevailed a few years ago.

Appeal rights eroded

The First-tier Tribunal received 7,800 cases between April and June 2017. In the same quarter three years ago, it was 19,700. That represents a decline of 60%.
To put that in context: the fall is in the same ballpark as the drop-off in employment tribunal cases following the introduction of fees there.

Employment tribunal fees, which severely restricted access to justice in that field before the Supreme Court struck them down last summer, reduced caseload by 68%.

Receipts have now fallen for the last ten quarters in succession.
Upper Tribunal receipts have also fallen over the period, although the trend is not steady.

What has changed since 2014/15? The Immigration Act 2014, and its 2016 successor, have been brought into force. These have reduced appeal rights and heralded a policy of “deport first, appeal later” (although this summer’s Supreme Court judgment in Kiarie and Byndloss places severe restrictions on the lawful use of that approach, at least in the short term).

As the number of appeals plummets, there has been a consequent fall in the number of cases outstanding (now a mere 43,400). While restricting avenues of appeal is one way to give the appearance of a more efficient judicial system, resourcing that system adequately could achieve much the same thing, with the added bonus of respect for the rule of law.

November 1, 2017

BANKS TO BE REQUIRED TO CARRY OUT 70 MILLION IMMIGRATION CHECKS EVERY QUARTER ON CURRENT ACCOUNTS

From 1st January 2018 banks and building societies will be required to carry out can estimated 70 million checks every quarter on current accounts.

Under the Immigration Act 2014, banks and building societies are required to carry out checks when opening current accounts in order to identify disqualified persons. A “disqualified person” is defined as “a person who is in the United Kingdom, who requires leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom but does not have it, and for whom the Secretary of State considers that a current account should not be provided by a bank or building society.”

As well as current accounts for individuals, this also includes where an individual is a signatory, or beneficiary, or adding an individual to an existing account as an account holder, signatory or beneficiary.

As part of the government’s plan to tackle illegal immigrants in the UK, the government will be implementing Schedule 7 of The Immigration Act, which is the “requirement to carry out immigration checks in relation to current accounts.”

To ascertain whether an individual is a “disqualified person,” banks and building societies will be required to check data they hold in relation to the individuals, i.e. name, date of birth, address, against a database supplied by the Home Office and held by an anti-fraud agency (CIFAS), which is in relation to foreign nationals who the Home Office believe are in the UK illegally, and who they deem to be liable for removal from the UK.

If the Secretary of State determines that the individual is a “disqualified person,” they may apply for a freezing order in respect of one or more of the accounts held with the bank or building society that are operated by or for the “disqualified person.” Whilst the bank or building society is awaiting confirmation by the Home Office the current account will remain open. It is also unlikely that the individual will be informed that they have been flagged as a potential “disqualified person.” The freezing order may be made without notice and the Home Office may make exceptions to the order by making provisions to allow the “disqualified person” access to funds to meet their reasonable living costs and legal fees.

There are concerns that the above could result in errors being made and individuals who are legally in the UK having their accounts frozen in error. It also has the potential for the Home Office to use the information to pursue enforcement measures against the individuals identified as being a “disqualified person.” In either case these could result in a lengthy process to get resolved.

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