Free Movement
The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.

Points based immigration system

The Home Office has been planning a shift to a points-based system for assessing immigration applications for some time, and recently announced the timetable for its introduction: Tier 1: beginning of 2008. This part of the scheme is for the highly skilled, who will not require a job offer before being eligible to apply for a visa. It replaces the current Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, which the Home Office has neglected to mention is already a points-based scheme. Tier 2: third quarter of 2008. This replaces the current work permit scheme. It is aimed at skilled migrants, but they require sponsorship by a UK based employer in order to be eligible to apply….

24th April 2007 By Free Movement

Immigration fee increases

A number of people seem to have come across this site while looking for information about the increased immigration fees, about which I have already written a post. I thought it would be instructive to post up the old immigration fees, the new ones and the percentage increase. As you can see below, there are some pretty hefty increases. Application type Old fee New fee % increase   Visas      Settlement visa £260 £500 92%    Work permit visa £85 £200 135%    Long term visa £85 £200 135%    Student visa £85 £99 16%    Visitor £50 £63 26%    Direct Airside Transit Visa £30 £44 47% Settlement/Nationality   …

16th April 2007 By Free Movement

Another judicial going over for the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal

I’m still catching up on a few developments while I was away over Easter, and have just read the Court of Appeal case of AH (Sudan) and Others v SSHD [2007] EWCA Civ 297, which came out on 4 April 2007. This is yet another Country Guideline case which has been up and down the court system several times already. I have already commented on how difficult the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) is making its own life by pursuing these supposedly definitive decisions, which are regularly overturned by the higher courts. El Presidente Mr Justice Hodge chaired the panel that decided the AIT decision under appeal, called HGMO (Relocation to…

12th April 2007 By Free Movement

Keeping out Johnny and Jane Foreigner

Until 2002 or thereabouts, the minimum age for the fiance in the UK who was to marry the person from abroad was 16 but the minimum age for the person from abroad was 18. These ages were then equalised at 18. It would appear that the age for both is soon to rise to 21. The Home Office report and press release include some patronising waffle about allowing adults to establish an independent life and take advantage of higher education opportunities. There is also reference to combatting forced marriages. I’d suggest these are very weak smokescreens for the the real justification, which can only be (i) to reduce the numbers entering the UK…

11th April 2007 By Free Movement

Deportation of ‘foreigners’

This has been a sorry business. The background is that in mid 2006 it came to light that foreign prisoners serving sentences for crimes committed in the UK were not being considered for deportation at the end of their prison sentences. Instead, they were being released, as would be a home-grown criminal at the end of his or her sentence. Foreign criminals experience a double whammy when they get caught and prosecuted. Not only do they serve a prison sentence commensurate for the crime committed, they also get considered for deportation from the United Kingdom. If the crime was serious and the criminal has no strong links in the UK…

10th April 2007 By Free Movement

New immigration fees

The fees for immigration applications made from both inside the UK (often referred to by immigration lawyers as ‘in country’ applications) and outside the UK at visa posts (referred to as ‘out of country’ applications) are going up very significantly on 2 April 2007. In country application fees were only introduced for the first time in the summer of 2003 and have already been increased once. The current levels are £335 for applications made by post (£225 for student applications by post) and £500 for an on-the-day in-person application made at one of the Home Office Public Enquiry Offices. The new fees are set out in full on the Home Office website,…

27th March 2007 By Free Movement

Desperate times

There was some sort of riot at Campsfield Detention Centre last week, as anyone following the news more carefully than I will know. I’ve been attending a training course all week and am therefore a bit out of the loop. The BBC cover the story, and there’s also a statement in Hansard by Liam Byrne, the relevant minister. Campsfield probably has the worst reputation of all the immigration detention centres, although it certainly has close competition. The relationship between detainees and screws is appalling, which is why Charles Clarke, the previous Home Secretary, was proposing to close it down some years ago after a review of what is euphemistically called the ‘immigration…

17th March 2007 By Free Movement

Denied entry: Can we build a more progressive consensus on immigration?

I went to a debate and discussion at the Royal Society of Arts on Tuesday and it proved interesting. The politicians, John Denham, Jon Cruddas and Barbara Roche, all Labour, were fairly predictable and followed the normal approach of politicians everywhere: there’s a problem and action must be taken by politicians like me in order to solve it. They just don’t seem to understand that constantly characterising immigration as a problem creates an incredibly negative agenda. Denham reckons one in ten workers in Southampton are Polish, which I imagine to be plain untrue, and immediately assumed that they were costing the ratepayer money rather than contributing to the local economy and taxation….

9th March 2007 By Free Movement

Sympathy for the AIT

I went for a drink last night with a couple of immigration lawyer friends and they had a lot less sympathy for the AIT than myself. Their line was that the AIT should stop making such politically inspired and illiberal decisions, and that the latest incarnation of AA (Zimbabwe) is just plain wrongly decided. I pointed out that research a couple of years ago on this at the Immigration Advisory Service suggested the proportion of Country Guideline cases that favoured the claimant was actually slightly higher than the general rate, which suggested a certain amount of generosity. Their riposte was that where Country Guideline cases favour claimants, it is always a very restricted…

9th March 2007 By Free Movement

Definitive Zimbabwe case overturned again

The Court of Appeal has yet again overturned the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s attempt definitively to establish whether a failed asylum seeker is at risk of ill-treatment by the Zimbabwe secret service at Harare airport following a forced removal there. That’s a sentence and a half. But it’s a case and a half too, with a long and convoluted history. It was first decided back in July 2005. The appeal was allowed by an immigration judge on the basis that the asylum seeker concerned was making his whole story up but that he would still be suspected of being a political opponent if removed to Zimbabwe, which would lead to his being mistreated and tortured,…

8th March 2007 By Free Movement

Overstayers and illegal entrants

Oh dear, another crackdown has been announced by the good Dr Reid. Read all about via the Home Office press release, or here if you prefer the BBC version. I won’t bother with links to the major papers, they are easy to look up. The press release is moderately worded and stresses positive contributions by immigrants and immigration. In contrast, the Marxists at the BBC lead with some rather intemperate and unfortunate language by Reid: “It is unfair that foreigners come to this country illegitimately and steal our benefits, steal our services like the NHS and undermine the minimum wage by working.” Reid must know that these sorts of phrases will…

7th March 2007 By Free Movement