Colin Yeo
Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

FOI response: waiting times for permanent residence certificates triple

Eight months and a warning from the Information Commissioner later, the Home Office has finally replied to my Freedom of Information request on waiting times for EU residence documents. The figures only go to the end of 2016 and it seems likely that waiting times have increased yet further since then. The number of applications for documents is soaring and the capacity of the Home Office to cope is highly questionable. The figures show that the average wait for all such documents has risen considerably since 2015, with an EEA permanent residence certificate taking 116 days to arrive by the end of last year – almost triple the time it…

18th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

August 2017 immigration update podcast

Welcome to the August 2017 edition of the Free Movement immigration update podcast. This month I’m starting with a run through of a few relevant bits of news and some blog posts to highlight rather than cover in depth, then moving on to a series of cases and posts about deportation, some material on different aspects of family immigration including the MM case and the financial rules for spouses, and ending with some human rights and a few procedural issues. There’s quite a lot to fit in! The material is all drawn from the August 2017 blog posts on Free Movement. If you would like to claim CPD points for reading…

18th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Why is the Home Office separating a British man from his wife when she is still breastfeeding their daughter?

This week the story of Dan Newton and his family has hit the newspapers. This post explains why the Home Office has acted as it has. It is not a mistake. Since harsh new rules were introduced in 2012, UK immigration policy does not usually allow British citizens working abroad to return to the UK if they have a foreign spouse. In effect, British citizens are exiled from their own country if they marry abroad. The Independent reports that Mr Newton is British and is married to Carla Zamora, an Ecuadorian citizen. They have three children together. All the children are British citizens. Mr Newton and his wife lived together…

16th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

What are the terms of the immigration “amnesty” for survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster?

The Home Office has revised its policy on the immigration “amnesty” for survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. In short, the government was offering a grant (or extension) of 12 months leave to enter or remain, with access to public funds included as well as the right to work. The 12 months limited leave can now be renewed so that there is a pathway to settlement – Indefinite Leave to Remain – after five years. Applications must be made before 30 November 2017. There is no formal application form that must be used and no fee is payable; nor is the Immigration Health Surcharge. This policy is additional to the government’s previous…

11th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Book review: The Making of an Immigration Judge by James Hanratty RD

James Hanratty RD, known as a compassionate and sometimes rather unconventional judge, will be a familiar name and indeed face to any London-based barrister specialising in immigration work. I for one was relieved rather than panicked when I would see that he was my client’s allocated judge in the morning on arrival at Hatton Cross. Published by Quartet, Mr Hanratty’s (I cannot really call him anything else I’m afraid) memoir is entitled The Making of an Immigration Judge. It covers Mr Hanratty’s early years, his first steps in law, his work at the Lord Chancellor’s Department, his two separate postings to Hong Kong and his membership of various private clubs….

11th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Nick Blake QC retires from High Court

The Honourable Sir Nicholas John Gorrod Blake retired from the High Court (Queen’s Bench) with effect from 3 October 2017. Sir Nicholas Blake (68) was called to the Bar (M) in 1974, took Silk in 1994 and was elected a Bencher in 2002. He was appointed an Assistant Recorder in 1999, a Recorder in 2000 and a Deputy High Court Judge in 2002. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court (Queen’s Bench) in 2007 and was the President of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) from 2010 to 2013. Known also as a leading member of the immigration team at 2 Garden Court Chambers before leaving to…

10th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Tribunal criticises government lawyers for “trench warfare” mentality and “inappropriate” conduct

In one of his final judgments as outgoing President, Mr Justice McCloskey launched a bitter broadside at the conduct of government lawyers in long-running litigation over the entry of refugee children. While the criticism of the solicitors at the Government Legal Department and of previous barristers instructed for the Home Office is robust and unambiguous, the background is hard to discern from the judgment itself, which arises essentially as satellite litigation around the failure of the Home Office to comply with previous orders made by the tribunal. The case is R (on the application of AM and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (liberty to apply –…

9th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Book review: A Guide to the Immigration Act 2016 by Alison Harvey and Zoe Harper

If you want to look up how the Immigration Act 2016 works in practice, A Guide to the Immigration Act 2016 by Alison Harvey and Zoe Harper is the definitive guide to the legislation. More comprehensive than my own introductory ebook to the Act, Harvey and Harper dive straight into the detail. Every single section of the Act is set out, prefaced with commentary on how it fits into the whole and what the effect of the section is or will be, along with information on commencement, regulations, definitions and devolution. The text is probably too detailed to use for “self training” on the Immigration Act 2016 or on the…

6th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

July 2017 immigration update podcast

Welcome to the July 2017 edition of the Free Movement immigration update podcast. This month I begin by running through a whole load of judgments and determinations, including from the Supreme Court on sham marriages, some cases on procedure and costs and some shocking cases on unlawful detention. I then turn to a series of short policy updates and with a quick mention for a detailed post on the rules on deportation for non-EU nationals – which are the rules which will apply to all foreign nationals after Brexit, of course. The material is all drawn from the July 2017 blog posts on Free Movement. If you would like to claim…

5th October 2017 By Colin Yeo

June 2017 immigration update podcast

Welcome to the June 2017 edition of the Free Movement immigration update podcast. This month I’m starting with the current UK proposals on the future status of EU citizens in the UK and a few (!) problems with those plans, covering the major Supreme Court decision on the “deport first, appeal later” regime, taking a look at the new “safe return review” the Home Office now conducts before granting settlement to refugees and then whizzing through some important but fairly dry judgments on Dublin returns and subsidiary protection, service of immigration decisions, the law of appeals and automatic strike out of judicial review cases in the Upper Tribunal. The material…

3rd October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Mr Justice Peter Lane appointed new President of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal

The Right Honourable Sir Ernest Ryder, The Senior President of Tribunals has appointed Sir Peter Lane to be the Chamber President for the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber with effect from 2 October 2017. This is the first “internal” appointment of an immigration tribunal judge to the top immigration judge role in my time in practice. Previous appointments since at least 1999 have always been from outside the existing immigration judiciary, including Sirs Andrew Collins, Duncan Ouseley, Henry Hodge, Nicholas Blake, and the outgoing president, Bernard McCloskey. President McCloskey will be much missed and I will be putting together a (positive!) review of his tenure. Any thoughts or (polite!)…

2nd October 2017 By Colin Yeo

Tribunal: Home Office must prove present risk to deport EU citizens

In the very recent case of Arranz (EEA Regulations – deportation – test) [2017] UKUT 294 (IAC) President McCloskey set out the correct approach to EU law deportations. The official headnote instructs us: (i) The burden of proving that a person represents a genuine, present and sufficiently threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society under Regulation 21(5)(c) of the EEA Regulations rests on the Secretary of State. (ii) The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities. (iii) Membership of an organisation proscribed under the laws of a foreign country does not without more satisfy the aforementioned test. (iv) The “Bouchereau” exception is no longer good law: CS…

28th September 2017 By Colin Yeo

New Free Movement deputy editor appointed: Conor James McKinney

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Conor James McKinney as Deputy Editor for Free Movement. CJ, as he prefers to be known, joins Free Movement with a strong background in legal journalism and communication. He has written on legal affairs for the Times, the i, the Evening Standard and the popular Legal Cheek website. CJ has a particular interest and expertise in Brexit, and has appeared on BBC and LBC radio as a commentator. Before joining Free Movement, he coordinated legal coverage at the fact checking organisation Full Fact as a senior researcher. He holds degrees in law from Trinity College, Dublin and Queens’ College, Cambridge. CJ will…

25th September 2017 By Colin Yeo

Upper Tribunal on readmission of EU nationals to attend deportation appeal hearings

The UK now removes EU citizens and family members before their deportation appeal takes place. Obviously, this interferes with the life that the person has established in the UK (job and home may be lost, for example), in effect prejudges the outcome of the appeal, has a drastic impact on family members and also interferes somewhat with preparing the appeal. However, it is possible for such an individual to re-enter the UK for the purpose of attending the appeal hearing, for example to give evidence. In R (on the application of Gabor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Reg 29AA: interpretation) [2017] UKUT 00287 (IAC) the Upper Tribunal addresses…

24th August 2017 By Colin Yeo

Tribunal Judge Peter Lane appointed Justice of the High Court

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Tribunal Judge Peter Richard Lane to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 2 October 2017 consequential to the retirement of Sir Michael Burton. The Lord Chief Justice will assign Tribunal Judge Peter Richard Lane to the Queen’s Bench Division. Notes to editors Tribunal Judge Peter Richard Lane, aged 64, will be known as The Honourable Mr Justice Lane. He was admitted as a Solicitor in 1985. He was appointed as a fee-paid Immigration Adjudicator in 1996, as a salaried Immigration Adjudicator in 2001, as a Vice President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal in 2003 (becoming a…

21st August 2017 By Colin Yeo

Analysis: what is the UK proposing for EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU?

On 26 June 2017, over a year after the Brexit referendum result, the government finally published its proposals to “safeguard the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU”. Here we take a look at the details of the proposals. It is important to remember that at the moment these are just proposals by the UK. They have been tabled as part of a negotiation process. The UK proposals may change, either becoming more generous as part of the negotiation or being withdrawn partially or in full if the negotiations fail. The EU has already made public its own comprehensive proposals, which are…

27th June 2017 By Colin Yeo

Supreme Court rules “deport first, appeal later” is unfair and unlawful

In R (Kiarie and Byndloss) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] UKSC 42 the Supreme Court has struck down “deport first, appeal later” certificates for two foreign criminals. The Home Office had made use of new rules in the Immigration Act 2014 which force some appellants to leave the UK before their appeal takes place, meaning that they are not present to give evidence. Of 1,175 cases in which these powers have so far been used, only 72 individuals attempted to pursue an appeal from abroad. None succeeded. The “deport first, appeal later” rules were originally applied only to foreign criminals facing deportation. However, the Immigration Act…

14th June 2017 By Colin Yeo

Court of Appeal dismisses challenge to rules on Adult Dependent Relatives

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the challenge brought by campaign group Britcits to the restrictive Immigration Rules on the admission to the UK of parents, grandparents and other adult dependent relatives. The case is BRITCITS v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWCA Civ 368. On 9 July 2012, the Immigration Rules on parents, grandparents and other dependent relatives were fundamentally changed, making it virtually impossible for them to be admitted to the UK to join a carer. The main stumbling blocks are these paragraphs from Appendix FM: E-ECDR.2.4. The applicant or, if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner, must…

30th May 2017 By Colin Yeo

Another massive increase in immigration and nationality application fees for 2017-18

New fees for immigration and nationality applications come into effect on 6 April 2017. The changes include an increase of 18% in settlement (ILR) applications to £2,297 and dependent relative applications to a huge £3,250. Meanwhile, naturalisation fees have been held at “only” a 4% increase to £1,202, compared to a 25% increase last year. This is all before the Immigration Health Surcharge is added to the cost of an application, which costs £200 per year per migrant for all limited leave visas other than visits (£120 for students). Many suspect the Home Office makes a hefty profit on these fees. They are correct. The actual cost of processing an…

4th April 2017 By Colin Yeo

Home Office ends policy of automatic settlement for refugees after five years

The Home Office has announced a new policy of reviewing whether all refugees require protection at the end of a five year initial period of leave. The policy appears to be effective immediately for all refugee settlement applications, including for refugees already resident in the UK and who were expecting to qualify automatically for settlement. Because refugees, employers and colleges can no longer assume a refugee will qualify for settlement, it will be harder for refugees to find work, commit to educational courses or simply settle down and rebuild their lives. Combined with the cuts to English language classes for refugees, one is left with the impression either that the…

9th March 2017 By Colin Yeo

Briefing: the legal status of EU citizens in the UK

Summary The Home Office has hardened its position on EU citizens who are living in the UK but who do not have a “right of residence” under Directive 2004/38/EC. New regulations were introduced on 1 February 2017 and a swathe of policy documents were updated shortly afterwards. These regulations and policies increasingly suggest that an EU citizen who is physically present in the UK but who the Home Office considers does not have a right of residence is in a precarious and unlawful position and can be removed from the UK at any time. New powers have been assumed by the Home Office to do just that: remove an EU citizen…

27th February 2017 By Colin Yeo

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance: what is it, and who needs it?

If you are an EEA/EU citizen or their family member and you would wish to qualify for a right of residence then eventually a right of permanent residence you have to meet certain requirements. Following the Brexit vote to leave the EU, it is more important than ever to make sure that you do currently meet the requirements. We fully expect that EEA citizens with the right of residence or permanent residence will benefit from transitional arrangements and be “passported” to a new immigration status, but we are not so sure about the position of those who are living in the UK without a right of residence. Confusingly, EEA citizens and their family…

23rd January 2017 By Colin Yeo

Court of Appeal judgment in ETS case of Qadir now available

This is the latest installment in the sorry ETS saga. For background see this series of blog posts. The Home Office actually conceded the appeal before the hearing, but the Court of Appeal gave judgment anyway because of the backlog of cases depending on the outcome. The short version is that things have moved on since the Upper Tribunal’s determination in Qadir; new and different evidence is now being adduced and relied on by the Home Office in new cases. In the existing cases pending before the Court of Appeal, the Secretary of State is proposing to abandon the cases or to seek agreement that they be remitted to the…

27th November 2016 By Colin Yeo

New Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 laid

New Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 were laid today, coming into force mainly from 1 February 2017. The new version is mainly a consolidating exercise — the 2006 regulations has been amended and reamended over and over again — but there are also some significant changes slipped in. These changes include: Major changes to the Surinder Singh route (coming into effect on 25 November 2016) which on the one hand soften the test to whether residence abroad was “genuine” but on the other hand sanctions refusal “where the purpose of the residence in the EEA State was as a means for circumventing any immigration laws applying to non-EEA nationals…

3rd November 2016 By Colin Yeo

Can children and parents apply to remain after seven years residence?

In 2012 the Immigration Rules were changed so that children with 7 years of residence in the UK might potentially qualify for leave to remain. The relevant rule is paragraph 276ADE of the Immigration Rules. No similar provision was made in the Immigration Rules for a child’s parents, though, and a child’s application will only succeed if he or she can show that it would not be “reasonable” for him or her to relocate abroad. The Home Office approach to such cases is to say that where the parents have no separate right to remain in the UK under the Immigration Rules — which is in almost all cases —…

4th April 2016 By Colin Yeo

Sandbrook Solicitors to be investigated by SRA

In another Hamid judgment the Upper Tribunal has referred for investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority the conduct of another solicitors’ firm, this time Sandbrook Solicitors. The case is Re Sandbrook Solicitors [2015] EWHC 2473 (Admin). Sitting in the Upper Tribunal, Mr Justice Green makes clear that no findings of fact were being made by the tribunal: We emphasise that in this judgment we have made no formal findings against Sandbrook or any solicitor working within that practice. We simply record our concerns. However, in view of the above, we conclude that the appropriate course is to refer Sandbrook to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a fuller investigation. We set out below…

11th September 2015 By Colin Yeo

Visit visa refusals: appeal or judicial review?

The removal of full rights of appeal for family visit visas has led to a legal dilemma to those considering a challenge to a refusal: should they give up, re-apply, attempt a human rights appeal or should they launch an application for judicial review? The problem seems all the more acute with many reports of refusals to spouses or relatives who cannot meet the harsh family settlement rules or who would rather live abroad but still want to be able to visit their spouse’s friends and family in the UK. This is an old but perennially popular blog post on Free Movement so I thought I would update and republish…

12th May 2015 By Colin Yeo

Tightening of British citizenship rules not aimed at refugees

James Brokenshire, until the dissolution of Parliament last week the Minister of Immigration [EDIT: I am reliably informed that he is still the Minister – thanks go to Alison Harvey!], has confirmed that the recent tightening of policy on granting British citizenship was not aimed at refugees. The change of policy was covered in January here on Free Movement: Good character citizenship criteria quietly tightened up. In short the good character requirements for naturalising as a British citizen were changed to penalise various breaches of immigration controls and prevent them qualifying for 10 years from when the breach occurred. This appeared to be very bad news for refugees, who have no…

30th March 2015 By Colin Yeo

New President Appointed

Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey has been appointed the new President of the Upper Tribunal’s Immigration and Asylum Chamber. His term begins on 1 October 2013 at the conclusion of Mr Justice Nicholas Blake’s three year term of office. First of all, a few words on the term of Mr Justice Blake. 

18th July 2013 By Colin Yeo