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.

Landing in Dover report on reception of children

Today’s report by the Children’s Commissioner, Landing in Dover, exposes gross double standards by UK Border Agency officials. The report reveals the existence of a so called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ operating at the south coast ports whereby an unaccompanied child who did not make an immediate asylum claim would be returned to France within 24 hours of arrival in the UK with no welfare or other assessment and no referral to social services. The agreement was in place from at least 1995 through to November 2011, when the Children’s Commissioner discovered the existence of the agreement. At this point the practice was halted immediately by the new Chief Executive of UKBA,…

17th January 2012 By Free Movement

Batch of tribunal cases

A few reported determinations from late last year have so far escaped comment here. There’s not much to say about these ‘Ronseal’ style determinations. Lest they be forgotten, though, here are the links and official headnotes: Haque (adjournment for asylum interview) Bangladesh [2011] UKUT 481 (IAC) An Immigration Judge is obliged to determine a ground of appeal brought under section 84(1)(g) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, even if the appellant raises for the first time in his grounds of appeal that he is a refugee. There is no obligation to adjourn any hearing before the First-tier Tribunal in order to allow the appellant to be interviewed by…

12th January 2012 By Free Movement

Migration Watch: Recovery in Woodlark population “may” be cause of youth unemployment

There was some coverage in the right wing press yesterday about a new Migration Watch ‘report‘ purportedly linking Eastern European immigration with youth unemployment. Migration Watch statistical analysis has been covered here before. Even the report itself claims nothing more than a ‘gut instinct’ though: Youth unemployment in the UK increased by almost 450,000 in the period from 2004 Q1 to 2011 Q3, from 575,000 to 1,016,000. Over the same period, numbers of workers from the A8 countries grew by 600,000. Correlation is not, of course, proof of causation but, given the positive employability characteristics and relative youth of migrants from these countries, it is implausible and counter-intuitive to conclude…

10th January 2012 By Free Movement

Blog changes

Regular visitors to the website will have noticed some changes over the Christmas period. A second column has been introduced on the right with Renaissance Chambers and HJT Training information, with both of which the editor is personally associated. The About the blog page has been slightly rewritten to make clear who the main contributors are and contributor guidelines have also been posted up for those interested in submitting occasional articles. A lawyers’ links page and a resources page have been added and it is hoped that further useful bits of information for lawyers will follow. The full text of posts is now not visible from the main page, only…

8th January 2012 By Free Movement

Two Big Euro Cases

Despite having already signed off for Christmas, I’ve been sitting waiting all morning to get on at Hatton Cross and decided to catch up on the two Big Euro Cases from this week. Both are from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The first is NS v United Kingdom (C-411/10), and you would have had to have been living in a bunker not to have caught some of the very extensive press coverage of the judgment. This case perhaps inevitably follows from the Big Fat Greek Test Case in the other major Euro court, the European Court of Human Rights. In NS the court held that where the…

23rd December 2011 By Free Movement

And I’m not making this up…

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Christmas

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series ChristmasFollowing on from last year’s seasonal leak, Free Movement can exclusively reveal a new secret Government proposal designed to cut down on abuse of human rights laws and reduce family immigration into the United Kingdom. The new proposal is said to have originated at the highest level because it was felt the existing family migration proposals were too soft. A new scheme is to be introduced from April 2012 that will eliminate cases like that highlighted by Home Secretary Theresa May at the Conservative Party conference in September. Her keynote speech on immigration included the memorable condemnation of a human…

22nd December 2011 By Free Movement

Entry clearance decision making: a global review

The Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine, has published a global review of entry clearance decision making. The findings are strongly critical in important respects. The sample size was nearly 1,500 case files from every entry clearance post, so the review certainly was a global one. Vine states as follows in his forward to the report: While there were no decision quality issues revealed in 761 cases, I found there were errors affecting decision quality in 515 cases. In a further 201 cases the lack of evidence retained on file made it impossible for me to assess whether the correct decision had been made… In 483 cases,…

20th December 2011 By Free Movement

Tribunal obliged to seek out representation in Country Guidance cases

The Court of Appeal last week handed down a very interesting judgment on the need for ‘proper argument’ in Country Guidance cases, the obligation on the tribunal itself to seek to secure that proper argument and how far the tribunal determination process can morph from an adversarial to an inquisitorial one. The case is HM (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 1536 and Richards LJ gives the leading judgment. This was the case where the tribunal decided to plough ahead with a CG case on Iraq despite the appellants being unrepresented, in controversial circumstances, at the hearing. See previous blog coverage here and here. On the need for proper…

19th December 2011 By Free Movement

Pre entry English tests upheld

In a substantial judgment running to 149 paragraphs Mr Justice Beatson sitting in the High Court has rejected a challenge to the rule requiring spouses to attain a certain level of English before entry. The case is R (Chapti and Others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 3370 (Admin). I’ll try and come back to this later and revise the post, but am short on time right now. The challenge seems to have been framed very much as a challenge to the Immigration Rules themselves rather than to the effect in the particular cases. The summary of conclusions at paragraph 148 of the judgment is as…

16th December 2011 By Free Movement

Immigration appeal fees coming soon

As previously highlighted on this blog, fees are to be introduced for immigration appeals. The date has now been set for this to begin: for notices of decision dated 19 December 2011 or later. Strangely, as far as I can see, you won’t find anything about this on the Immigration and Asylum Chamber website. One might have thought some forewarning for litigants and their lawyers might be useful there in order to avoid invalid appeals come commencement. There is a short item about it on the UKBA website, at least. The headlines are that, for now, the moment fees will only apply in the First Tier Tribunal and that the fees…

14th December 2011 By Free Movement

Blog problems

The blog has been experiencing a few problems over the last few days, for which I apologise. The hosting provider moved the blog to a new server accidentally or some such, and everything went offline for about a day. Somewhere along the way some content was lost. I’ve re-inserted the lost posts but have lost a few comments (sorry, Mr T!). The speed at which pages load seems slow anyway, so I’m going to look at changing hosting provider. I’ll wait until just before Christmas before I make any such change, though, to try and minimise any disruption if anything goes wrong – which it almost certainly will. The blog…

10th December 2011 By Free Movement

Best interests of children

There are two recent cases to cover on this subject. The first is AJ (India) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 1191, in which I was Shivani Jegarajah‘s junior, despite my puzzling omission from the court record (must sort that out), and the other is the more recent Upper Tribunal decision of MK (best interests of child) India [2011] UKUT 475 (IAC). Both these cases are perhaps best viewed through the prism of the Hegelian dialectic I brought up recently in another post. They both seek to distinguish ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4 and resume immigration law ‘as…

6th December 2011 By Free Movement

Iraq Country Guidance Overturned

The controversial Country Guideline case of HM and Others (Article 15(c)) Iraq CG [2010] UKUT 331 (IAC) has been quashed by the Court of Appeal. See the order here. The case of HM should no longer be followed as paragraph 2 of the order provides that: determination of the IAC [Immigration and Asylum Chamber] in this appeal dated 21st September 2010 is quashed with the consequence that it ceases on all issues to be authoritative country guidance The case of HM was an excellent example of the difficulties facing the tribunal in determining country guidance cases. See my original post on it here. The representatives for the appellants withdrew representation at…

2nd December 2011 By Free Movement

Invalid applications

Invalid immigration applications cause serious difficulties. The problem is that the UK Border Agency advises people not to make applications until shortly before their existing leave is due to expire. However, it often takes the Border Agency days or weeks to look at the application, by which time the person’s existing leave has expired. As long as the application was valid, this causes few difficulties because the person’s leave is automatically extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 until the end of the application or appeal process. A serious problem arises where the Border Agency in their wisdom return the application as invalid: the person becomes an overstayer,…

1st December 2011 By Free Movement

Segregation of immigration decisions

In a dense judgment that more than once has caused me to question my will to live the Court of Appeal has held that it is unlawful for the Secretary of State to separate a decision to refuse to extend leave from a decision to remove. The case is Sapkota v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 1320. This ‘segregation’ of decisions, as it is referred to in the judgment, is unlawful because it effectively deprives a person of the right to rely on paragraph 395C of the rules. Such segregation is contrary to the one-stop philosophy of appeals. At this point I pause to wonder why…

30th November 2011 By Free Movement

Change of website address

[UPDATE: now done, as you can see!] I have more or less finished building the new website and plan to switch over shortly. Before I do so I thought it might be helpful for readers to check it out and get back to me with any comments or suggestions and also to test out the new site. I am a little concerned that pages seem to load slowly, for example. The new address is www.freemovement.org.uk. All of the posts and I think all or most of the comments have been moved across already. In terms of presentation you will see that I have made fairly slight changes. I hope you…

27th November 2011 By Free Movement

Should I stay or should I go?

The Hegelian dialectic is sometimes expressed as thesis followed by anti-thesis followed in turn by synthesis. Over time, compromise is the outcome. A tendency towards the middle ground can often be seen in human rights case law and immigration policy. A radical new case is handed down or law is passed. Advocates and judges seek to distinguish it to mitigate the perceived unjust individual effects. Such perception is based on the earlier paradigm. A new understanding is reached, which everyone often thinks is based on a ‘true’ understanding of the original proposition. This may be the way things work in practice, but the case or the law itself is often…

25th November 2011 By Free Movement

Skills workshop

Just a quick one to flag up that HJT Training is running a series of skills workshops with the excellent and inspiring Julian Bild as the trainer. Julian, formerly of RLC, Wilson and Co, Tyrer Roxburgh and IAS, has trained countless immigration lawyers in the last few years. I used to work with him and I learned a great deal in that time. He is testing the water to see if there is demand for skills training. The series is aimed particularly at OISC advisers. The first in the series is on taking initial instructions and client care on Wednesday 23 November in central London. Click here to book and…

19th November 2011 By Free Movement

One rule for the rich

The Government’s plan massively to increase the minimum income threshold required to sponsor family members to the UK came one step closer yesterday with the publication of a report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The full report can be accessed here. Analysis by Alan Travis of The Guardian can be found here and by Matt Cavanagh of the IPPR here. The MAC is proposing the introduction of a minimum gross (i.e. before tax) income threshold of at least £18,600 and perhaps as much as £25,700. The MAC assumes that this threshold excludes possible future income from the spouse entering the UK – which means that the figures are proposed minimum incomes…

17th November 2011 By Free Movement

Blog changes ahead

There will be some changes coming on Free Movement. This has been absorbing quite a lot of my rather limited time of late, and there are several significant recent cases that I haven’t managed to flag up yet, for which I apologise. Work has been extremely busy and I have a family I’m supposed to spend time with as well. Before I go further, the State of the Nation is that the blog topped 50,000 page views last month and has just short of 1,000 email subscribers. The Twitter account now has over 600 followers. The blog also has a Google Pagerank of 5/10, which is apparently quite good. We…

14th November 2011 By Free Movement

Review of spouses cases refused on age alone

As well as formally lowering the spouse visa age back to 18 through a formal change to the Immigration Rules on 28 November 2011 in response to the Quila case, the UK Border Agency is enabling the review of cases where applications were refused solely on the basis of not meeting the increased age requirement of 21. The announcement on the UKBA news page is here, the new ‘review of age decisions’ page is here, the review guidance here and the review application form here. If you want to see the formal Statement of Changes it is number HC 1622 and can be found here (it is unusually short and…

9th November 2011 By Free Movement

Commission on a Bill of Rights submissions deadline looms

My old pupil master, Ian Lewis, helpfully reminded me the other day that the deadline for the Human Rights Commission is approaching: 11 November 2011. With Remembrance Day and International Corduroy Day, 11/11/11 is going to be busy. The discussion paper for the Commission can be found here. The cat flap aside, the Tories seem unusually serious about reforming current understanding of human rights laws. Unlike some of his less legally astute colleagues Dominic Grieve seems aware this cannot be achieved through a new domestic bill of rights that would be subsidiary to the European Convention on Human Rights, nor through misconceived interventions in Strasbourg to try and convince human…

8th November 2011 By Free Movement

Spouse visa age lowered

UPDATE: see later post for information on applying for a review if your case has already been refused. The Government has announced today that the spouse visa age will be lowered again from 21 to 18. The change will take effect as of 28 November 2011. The Minister for Immigration, Damian Green, says as follows in his ministerial announcement: The changes in the Immigration Rules being laid before the House today are as a result of the Supreme Court judgement in R (on the application of Quila and another) (FC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and R (on the application of Bibi and another) (FC) v Secretary…

7th November 2011 By Free Movement

Watch out old work permit holders…

Back on 6 April 2011 the UK Border Agency made a change to the settlement rules for work permit holders who had entered the UK before the Points Based System was introduced. The change required a work permit holder to be paid a certain salary in order to qualify for settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain. The salary required is that specified in the myriad Codes of Practice for Tier 2 of the Points Based System. The problem since faced by many work permit holder seeking settlement after five years of living and working in the UK is that their work permit was approved for one salary, which is what…

2nd November 2011 By Free Movement

Expanded immigration team at Renaissance Chambers

Regular readers will know that Free Movement practises from Renaissance Chambers, as do the other contributors to the blog. We have been expanding our immigration team at Renaissance over the last few months and have now also relaunched our website. Last night was one of our periodic immigration lectures (more to follow on that soon) and it feels like the right moment to spread the news about our new immigration team line up (by seniority): You can read the blurb about the immigration team here. The full time immigration practitioners are Shivani, Pearl, Charlotte, Frances, Paulene, Samina, Nishan, Iain, Sanaz, Colin, Ripon and Kezia. The others have mixed practices, mainly immigration…

27th October 2011 By Free Movement

Important new case on children

In a judgment handed down yesterday HH Judge Anthony Thornton QC has given some very interesting guidance on the scope of the duty under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 following the guidance of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4. The case is R (on the application of Tinizaray) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 1850 (Admin). The facts are not that unusual. An Ecuadorian woman entered the UK illegally in 2001 with her mother. She was pregnant at that time and gave birth in 2002. The child grew…

26th October 2011 By Free Movement

New evidence in Points Based System appeals

The Upper Tribunal has reported a decision on the effect of the new section 85A of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002: Alam (s 85A – commencement – Article 8) Bangladesh [2011] UKUT 00424 (IAC). The official headnote reads as follows: (1) Where it applies, s. 85A of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 precludes certain evidence from being relied on, in order to show compliance with the Immigration Rules. (2) “Fairness” arguments concerning the application of the transitional provisions regarding s. 85A, in article 3 of the UK Borders Act 2007 (Commencement No. 7 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2011, may have a legitimate part to play in…

26th October 2011 By Free Movement

More on Zambrano guidance

The UK Border Agency has released the slightly more detailed guidance on Zambrano-based applications that was referred to in my earlier post on this. This follows from a Freedom of Information request, although in fact the document had already been provided to ILPA. Frankly, it does not take things a great deal further and there is still little indication of what is meant by ‘adequate evidence of dependency’. However, a bit more guidance is provided, and it looks more restrictive than might have been hoped. Firstly it addresses children cases: In practice, the majority of cases are likely to come within this category and so will involve a British citizen…

25th October 2011 By Free Movement

Effect of Quila

UPDATE: SEE LATEST POST. Following a hell of a lot of confused, confusing and anguished comments on my last post on Quila, I thought it might be helpful to set out my take on the effect of Quila. The first thing to say is that I would be very wary of any information provided in comments on this blog. Some idiot even left a comment pretending to be from the UK Border Agency. The name ‘Andrew Higgins’ paired with the email address ‘ibrahimsaid@live.co.uk’ was a bit of a giveaway, I thought. There are some people out there trying to be helpful but who may be wrong. There are malicious people out there…

18th October 2011 By Free Movement

Goodbye paragraph 395C?

Theresa May and David Cameron have promised to crack down on the perversion of human rights. May specifically stated that she wanted to amend the Immigration Rules to do so. Some of this is no doubt pure politics of the dogwhistle variety: it will not necessarily be followed by new policies or actual changes, but ministers want to be heard saying the ‘right’ thing. It is difficult to take May seriously after Catgate. She cannot really be expected to check everything that is placed in front of her by her speech writers, but the pledge on changing the rules was unusually specific. I’ve been wondering what might follow, and my…

14th October 2011 By Free Movement

Home Office appeal in Quila dismissed

UPDATE: SEE LATEST POST. In a judgment just handed down the Supreme Court has by a majority dismissed the Home Secretary’s appeal against the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the case of Quila v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 45 (on appeal from [2010] EWCA Civ 1482). To put it another way, the Government’s attempt to increase the spouse visa age from 18 to 21 has been ruled unlawful. The press release and summary can be found here. The full judgment is available here. See here for previous coverage on this blog. The leading judgment is that of Lord Wilson, a highly respected judge with a family…

12th October 2011 By Free Movement

Five years of immigration detention ruled unlawful

In the case of R (on the application of Sino) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 2249 (Admin) (25 August 2011) John Howell QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, held that the entire period of detention of an Algerian man was unlawful, a period of five years. The judge also held that evidence presented by three named Home Office officials was false and misleading, concluding as follows: What this sorry saga appears to reveal is a disturbing level of incompetent ignorance in what is apparently the team in the Home Office and the “Family Tracing Unit” in Algiers who are supposed to…

11th October 2011 By Free Movement

Yet another major immigration speech

Prime Minister David Cameron has made yet another keynote speech on immigration. He seems hell bent on setting back race relations in this country by forty years. Encouraging members of the public to rat on suspected illegal immigrant neighbours or work colleagues is hardly likely to promote community cohesion. It is a great way to settle scores or just get rid of ethnic minorities because you don’t like them very much, though. What is there to lose for the aggrieved racist complainant? If the suspected ‘illegal’ is in fact here illegally they get detained and removed. If they are here lawfully, they are subjected to a humiliating and traumatic dawn…

10th October 2011 By Free Movement

Maya The Cat

I have so far refrained from any mention of cats, although I came THIS close to asking in examination in chief yesterday whether my clients owned a cat… You can read the disputed determination for yourself here, courtesy of The New Statesman. You can also read the reasons for yourself. Theresa May was ‘making it up’, basically. Alex Mik has sent in a more thoughtful piece on human rights reporting generally, which I am happy to reproduce below. As a postscript to the judgment, Maya the Cat is still apparently going strong, as are the gay couple at the centre of the determination. You’d have thought The Daily Mail would…

7th October 2011 By Free Movement

More on Zambrano

I’ve previously posted up the publicly available UKBA guidance on Zambrano, but a commenter very helpfully posted a link to more information available on the Wornham & Co blog. I don’t myself post letters to or from ILPA unless the information is public, but there is some suggestion in the letter that information has already been passed to ‘select’ representatives and Wornham & Co have put the letter ‘out there’ anyway now! The key passages are as follows: The judgment applies only to cases in which the dependent Union citizen is within their state of nationality.  For the United Kingdom this means that the judgment applies only to cases involving…

6th October 2011 By Free Movement

Yet more Tribunal decisions

After what felt like something of a hiatus early in the year, the tribunal has been churning out new reported cases in recent months as if there was no tomorrow. As far as I know no-one has suggested scrapping the Immigration and Asylum Chamber YET, although it is surely only a matter of time! September’s batch follows below, with the official headnotes inset and in italics and any commentary by Free Movement in normal text before the headnote. With some of these, one wonders what cases aren’t reported these days. However, highlights include two from El Presidente, one in which Treasury hotshot James Eadie QC, normally reserved for serious terrorism…

4th October 2011 By Free Movement

HJT Immigration Manual

I finished work on the 10th edition of the HJT Immigration Manual just before going on holiday. It is now printed and available for purchase for £69 (at that price for a limited period, I understand). The contents pages, introduction and first chapter, on immigration control, can be downloaded as a free sample here. I have deliberately attempted to lock down printing and copying and pasting from the sample document. I already provide a heck of a lot of information for free through the blog, if you want it all in a useful textbook style format, you’ll need to pay for it! The 10th edition continues the tradition of gradual improvement…

30th September 2011 By Free Movement

Family migration proposals

Damian Green’s speech on immigration on 15 September 2011 revealed various proposals which seem likely to become law. These build and elucidate on previous proposals, previously covered here on the blog. The tone of the speech and the proposals is clear from the very first words: The vast majority of people in this country believe that we need less immigration, and I agree. The current Government certainly doesn’t beat around the bush! Green suggests that immigration figures have stabilised, but this may come back to haunt him. One quarter a trend does not make. The revelation that employers are not making full use of the Points Based System quota is…

29th September 2011 By Free Movement

Zambrano guidance by UKBA

The first of my catch-up posts comes courtesy of the indefatigable Mr T – many thanks, Mr T. The UK Border Agency have issued some belated guidance on the Zambrano case. It only appears in the form of an item on the news section of the UKBA website, though, and has not been incorporated into a formal policy document as such, at least so far as I can find. The main text reads as follows: The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) recently handed down judgment in the case of Ruiz Zambrano (C-34/09). This judgement creates a right to reside and work for the sole carer of a…

27th September 2011 By Free Movement

Immigration control

Passing through immigration control on my return to the UK yesterday, my wife had to restrain me from taking a photograph of one of the notices that appeared on the UK visual displays at Heathrow. She wanted to get home sooner rather than later and, on reflection, I wasn’t in the mood for trouble. The powers of Immigration Officers to stop, search and generally inconvenience are really quite extensive. However, I did make a careful note, that I think is accurate (I had plenty of time on my hands in the queue): It is against the law to provide support to asylum seekers who delay their claim without good reason….

26th September 2011 By Free Movement