Review of handling of gay asylum claims

Very pleased to have played a role in bringing about this review: it was here on Free Movement that the case referred to by May was revealed before being picked up by The Observer.

A Home Office document leaked earlier this year revealed how one bisexual asylum seeker was asked a series of intrusive questions including: “What is it about men’s backsides that attracts you?” May has asked the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, John Vine, to review asylum claims made on grounds of sexual orientation.

In a letter to him, May said: “We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed. We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour.

“It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked.

There is certainly every need for a review. In a case I was acting in last week the gay asylum seeker’s claim to be gay was rejected by the Home Office for reasons including “you have not attended any gay events, societies or clubs in the UK” and not knowing the surnames of men he had met through Grindr. This was even though he had very good evidence to show a relationship with his boyfriend, who was regularly visiting him in immigration detention, and statements from several other same sex partners.

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In another highly critical report on immigration enforcement by the Home Office, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine has found that in nearly two thirds of cases (59%) immigration enforcement officers entering business premises lacked the legal authority to do so and in addition were regularly flouting their own internal guidance.

This report comes the same day as another on the mismanagement of the immigration removals process. Continue Reading…

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The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has just published a damning report looking at the removals process at the Home Office. That the Home Office is not effective in conducting removals is hardly news to those of us who work in immigration law but even I was surprised by some of the stark statistics that emerge from the report.

The report is surely required reading for any judges dealing with bail applications or unlawful detention cases.

Continue Reading…

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The ‘Surinder Singh route’ has become well known to British citizens seeking to be reunited with their family members. The toughening up of UK immigration rules in July 2012 – particularly the introduction of the minimum income rule and its labyrinthine documentary requirements and the awful elderly dependent relative rules – is resulting in an increasing number of split families. To understand their misery and anguish, take a look at some of the comments left here and here on this blog. As recently reported, over 3,000 families had applications on hold by the Home Office pending the outcome of a test case, and that was only as of the end of December 2013. That was at least 6,000 adults and it is unknown how many of those couples have children. The numbers can only have increased since then.

The old Court of Justice of the European Union case of Surinder Singh provides a potential means of bypassing the harsh UK immigration rules by relying instead in European Union free movement laws. But a new European case, O v The Netherlands Case C‑456/12, brings some good news and a bit of bad news. Continue Reading…

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On 19 January 2014, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May told the Daily Mail that Britain’s generous welfare system should no longer be a ‘magnet’ for citizens of other EU states and that they would be introducing a number of measures aimed at new migrant jobseekers from the European Economic Area (EEA).

“For those migrants who do come here, we’re ensuring they are unable to take unfair advantage of our system by accessing benefits as soon as they arrive.  For example, we introduced rules so that from January 1 this year we are banning individuals from receiving out-of-work benefits until they have been living in the UK for three months. And we will go still further: from the beginning of April we will be removing entitlement to housing benefit altogether for this group.”

The DWP has now issued the Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/539) as well as official guidance to local authorities HB Circular A6/2014.  While the change has been portrayed as being aimed at newly arrived EEA migrants (particularly those from Eastern Europe), it is now clear that it will also affect those EEA nationals who do not manage to pass the ‘more exacting test’ for genuine and effective work, in the form of the Minimum Earnings Threshold (‘MET’), when they claim JSA(IB). Continue Reading…

Blog - Scales of Justice

In a handy case that arrived just after I’d finished a Court of Appeal skeleton on the same subject, Mr Justice McCloskey has delivered another of his characteristically interesting determinations. This one is MM (unfairness; E & R) Sudan [2014] UKUT 105 (IAC), on the subject of procedural fairness amounting to errors of law. The key question is whether an appealable error of law can arise through no fault on the part of the judge.

As an aside, most lawyers would consider this a bit of a no brainer, but it is interesting to see a detailed analysis and the context in which the issue arose in this case is also an interesting one. Continue Reading…

Channel 4 investigates life and tragic death of Alois Dvorzac

Which all leads us to the following devastating question: how did this life, so full of historical resonance, affection and adventure, end up extinguished, in handcuffs, in a British asylum detention centre?

Great journalism but very upsetting piece. The Home Office attempt to blame the security contractors is particularly repugnant.