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.

Immigration update course

I’m currently working on materials for a general immigration update course for HJT Training, taking place this Wednesday, 18th May. Click here to book if you are interested. As well as things I’ve already covered here on Free Movement I’ve learned a few interesting things from reading through Statements of Changes HC 863 and 908 and other bits and bobs, so save yourself the effort and join us! Highlights include the end of most but not all of the Certificates of Approval scheme, new immigration categories and all sorts of other changes to the rules, the bar on applications for settlement for those with unspent convictions and what they can…

16th May 2011 By Free Movement

Treatment of rape, trauma and delay in asylum cases

Ever since the mysterious disappearance of the IAA Gender Guidelines from the old IAA website, there has been an absence of good guidance to immigration judges on gender issues in an immigration context. The Equal Treatment Benchbook has a very good chapter on women and equality generally but it does not deal specifically with the unusual issues that arise in, for example, forced marriage, trafficking, Refugee Convention or human rights cases in the immigration tribunal. I’ve also got no idea how well thumbed this is by most immigration judges. The material in the old IAA Gender Guidelines was considered by many to include some useful, specific and well thought through…

13th May 2011 By Free Movement

Section 19 rumours

On Tuesday I speculated on whether section 19 of the UK Borders Act 2007 might be brought into force. This was entirely speculative at the time, but today I’ve heard rumours that this is indeed what is going to happen, and soon. However, I can find no relevant Commencement Order and have checked both Hansard and the statute database. The information seems to be coming from the tribunal, which might make sense. The main saving for effectively scrapping appeals in Points Based System cases would be for the tribunal. The Home Office rarely seem to attend these appeals. Introducing section 19 is a very effective way for the Home Office…

12th May 2011 By Free Movement

New report on medico-legal reports

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (shortly to become Freedom From Torture, is launching a very interesting sounding new report entitled Body of evidence: treatment of medico-legal reports for survivors of torture in the UK asylum system. The launch event is on 24 May 2011 at 6pm at Garden Court Chambers. If you would like to go you need to RSVP as spaces are limited. Details as follows: The introduction of the report will be followed by a panel-led discussionof the key findings and recommendations for future practice. The panel comprises: Keith Best, Chief Executive of the Medical Foundation A senior member of the Tribunal (Asylum and Immigration Chambers)…

12th May 2011 By Free Movement

Family visit and PBS appeals to be scrapped

It looks like family visit appeals may be axed. Again. Those who have been doing this a while will no doubt be afflicted by a terrible sense of deja vu at this point, as this is not the first time this has happened. The news seems to have broken via The Guardian yesterday and you can read the full article here. It is difficult to tell how certain the change is at this point. The authors of the article describe the leaked document as a ‘submission to the immigration minister’ but the rest of the article is written as if the change is definitely going ahead. It may be that…

10th May 2011 By Free Movement

Migration Museum Project

I’ve been asked to give a mention to the Migration Museum Project and am delighted to do so. I enjoyed my visit to the Museum of Immigration in Melbourne and the 19 Princelet Street project in Spitalfields is excellent but can necessarily only open a few times per year because of the condition of the building. The United Kingdom, with its long history of immigration, needs a migration museum of its own. Barbara Roche, who was Immigration Minister when I first started out doing immigration work, is leading the project and the fundraising has been launched with a picture competition in The Guardian. You can read about it in an…

7th May 2011 By Free Movement

Disclosure from family proceedings

A very good solicitor I know nearly came a cropper on this the other day, so I thought I would post up some advice on the subject. I suspect quite a few immigration lawyers are not really familiar with the issues around disclosure. Given the increasing importance attached to family life and the best interests of children in case law, I hope this will be of assistance. Basically, any documents prepared for the purposes of or any information relating to family proceedings relating to children is strictly confidential and cannot be disclosed to another party without committing contempt of court. Sarah Harman was famously suspended for breaching the predecessor to…

28th April 2011 By Free Movement

Useful links for immigration lawyers

The recent scrapping of the old AIT website has rendered my old page of links to procedure rules and practice directions out of date. I found it useful myself, so here are a replacement list of useful links sourced from the new Ministry of Justice, Judiciary, Tribunals and legacy AIT websites with a few extra morsels thrown in: First Tier Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber consolidated procedure rules here Upper Tribunal consolidated procedure rules here First Tier and Upper Tribunal joint presidential guidance on Child and vulnerable adult and sensitive witnesses (with attached Senior President Practice Direction on the same subject) here Bail guidance here Practice Directions for the Immigration…

27th April 2011 By Free Movement

Renaissance Chambers immigration lecture

Last week was the annual Renaissance Chambers immigration lecture, and I promised to post up the notes and slides from the talks. It has been such a busy week that I haven’t even had time to accomplish that, for which I apologise. We all thought it went very well, and it was a pleasure meeting up with solicitors both old and new as well as our new immigration tenants – more information to follow shortly on that subject. The first talk, particularly worth singling out as being inspiring and interesting, was by Shivani Jegarajah and was entitled Good Character and Naturalisation. The second was by Colin Yeo on Best Interests of…

22nd April 2011 By Free Movement

Cameron’s speech: what’s next?

The full text of the speech (yet to be delivered at the time of writing, which seems rather odd) is available on The Guardian website and elsewhere. I want to concentrate on what future changes are being signalled in the speech. Before getting started, though, I count six uses of ‘bogus’ and note that Cameron puts the blame for immigration firmly on the immigrants: For years, people have been playing the system, exploiting the easiest routes of entry to the UK. Alternatively,  they have been making legitimate applications under rules put in place by the government, rules which those in question satisfied. This kind of talk is hardly constructive, intelligent…

14th April 2011 By Free Movement

“Still the merry-go-round goes round, and round, and round again”

The Court of Appeal shows its despair at the immigration tribunal in the case of RM (Zimbabwe) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 428 (13 April 2011). All three judges lament the fact that they have to remit the case back to the tribunal for yet further consideration, but the comments of Ward LJ are particularly heartfelt: “Regrettably that undermines his decision. I say regrettably because it means that the Secretary of State’s appeal must be allowed and the matter remitted, yet again, for further reconsideration, now in the light of even more country guidance of the up to date state of affairs in Zimbabwe. This…

13th April 2011 By Free Movement

Poppy Project to close, funding going to missionaries instead

In a clear signal of a return to Victorian values of the undeserving poor and salvation through faith, the Home Office is terminating its funding for the fabulous Poppy Project for trafficked women and instead awarding a contract to the Salvation Army, the evangelical Christian missionaries known mainly for their ability to blow trumpets at Christmas. At the same time, it seems the nature of the contract and the level of support for victims of trafficking is being reduced to a bare bones service without facilities for proper counselling. The Guardian report this news is drawn from goes on to describe details of just one Poppy Project case which would…

12th April 2011 By Free Movement

Happy Birthday!

It had escaped my attention that Free Movement was four years old on 7 March 2011. The first ever post was published on that day, entitled Overstayers and illegal entrants. The Home Secretary was Dr Reid. How long ago that all feels! Since then 365 posts have been published, the site has had nearly 820,000 hits, the average number of views each weekday is around 1,500, there are coming up to 700 email subscribers and Free Movement has acquired 285 Twitter followers. Astonishingly, there have been 2,593 comments left on the blog. Other than the home page, the most popular post of the last four years was on the Cambridge…

7th April 2011 By Free Movement

All criminal convictions to act as bar to settlement from today

I have had to redraft this post, which had been intended to be a good news story about a positive development at the UK Border Agency and which I had scheduled for Monday morning. A nice start to the week, thought I. However, late last week it transpired that the Home Office gives with one hand but very much takes away with another, as we will see in a moment. For now, the original text of this post: Some good news, for a change: the long running campaign to end the ‘no recourse to public funds’ limitation for victims of domestic violence seems to have succeeded. All credit to the…

6th April 2011 By Free Movement

Immigration tribunal websites vanish

Only this morning I was making extensive use of the websites of both the First Tier and Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chambers. I’ve returned to chambers only to find that they have now seemingly vanished into thin air, with nothing but a redirect to a new looking Ministry of Justice website. I HOPE that this is because the IAC sites are temporarily down but suspect not. The new MOJ site has a very limited amount of the information of the old sites. Just enough to make one suspect that it serves as a replacement… Anyone with any news? Can anyone find the practice directions or the case law sections?…

4th April 2011 By Free Movement

New cases

A raft of cases has come out in the last week or so, so it is high time for a round up. I’ll start with two cases from the Court of Appeal followed by the headnotes from a series of mundane tribunal determinations. One wonders why some of these get reported but other more interesting determinations of more general application do not. I’ve been meaning to draft a post on this subject and this may spur me on. Lee v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 348 provides a timely reminder that family life and the interests of children do not trump all other considerations. Or,…

4th April 2011 By Free Movement

Lumba: Pyrrhic victory?

In the case of Lumba v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 12 the Supreme Court has held that it was unlawful to detain foreign prisoners under a secret policy which was the precise reverse of the publicly declared policy. However, the Court declined to award any more than nominal damages. The Claimants walk away with a total of £1 apiece. Essentially, the Court holds that because the Claimants would have been detained anyway the unlawfulness is more or less irrelevant and no compensation is due. Remember, this is detention that was against the law, that was not been properly authorised and which was justified by deliberately…

1st April 2011 By Free Movement

No strings attached

The Government would like students to come to the UK, pay their overseas tuition fees (and a few immigration fees along the way) and then, as the great Meatloaf would put it, be gone when the morning comes. Despite the general reputation of students for promiscuity (ill deserved, I found to my disappointment), many international students, particularly highly intelligent ones wanting to study at top institutions and get highly skilled professional jobs, are not likely to be seduced by the Government’s Mrs Robinson-style approach to relationship building. Still attractive but definitely aging, the UK cannot afford to treat students like a bit on the side. They’ll run off with Ms…

31st March 2011 By Free Movement

Legacy exercise outcomes revealed

[UPDATE 31/3/11: see Comments below for further information and updates] This interesting snippet of information recently came my way and I thought it was worth sharing. A Freedom of Information request recently revealed outcomes to the Legacy backlog clearance exercise: Number of cases granted Indefinite Leave to Remain = 145,843 Number of cases granted Discretionary Leave to Remain = 3,405 Number of cases granted Humanitarian Protection = 430 This information is said to be accurate up to 19 January 2011. As the programme is now closed, as I understand it, these will be the final figures. The total number of cases for consideration was thought to be around 450,000. That number…

30th March 2011 By Free Movement

Quila heads for Supreme Court

Permission has been granted to the Secretary of State to appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Quila & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] EWCA Civ 1482, concerning the increase in the spouse visa age from 18 to 21. The appeal has been expedited and is listed for 8 and 9 June 2011. See previous coverage of the case and topic on the blog here. In addition, I was almost shocked to see that the Home Office have remembered to ask that the effect of Quila be stayed pending the outcome of the Supreme Court…

29th March 2011 By Free Movement

Children, family tracing and section 55

Firstly, I should apologise for getting behind with my updates. I have nominally been on holiday this last week and my internet connection, perhaps fortuitously for my holiday, died unexpectedly half way through. Briefly, we have seen a major judgment from the Supreme Court on detention issues and a major announcement on foreign students, representing the final end to Tony Blair’s drive to recruit foreign students, started in 1999. I’m going to begin my catch up with a pair of interesting judicial decisions on children, though, and return to these other subjects next week. As I’m delivering three training sessions on this subject next week, the children cases take personal…

25th March 2011 By Free Movement

Critical reports published on Amman and Istanbul

The Chief Inspector of UKBA has today published critical reports of the entry clearance operations at Amman in Jordan and Istanbul in Turkey. Click here for press release, here for the report on Amman and here for the report on Istanbul. In Amman, 55% of all cases were found to be failing one or more decision making quality indicators, applicants were found to be refused on the basis of failing to provide evidence they were not asked for and were given no opportunity to provide, documents were declared to be false when in fact they were genuine, supporting documents were not retained on case files and the case notes by…

17th March 2011 By Free Movement

Buy your way in

The Government has announced a new ‘red carpet’ approach to immigration for the super rich: From April 6, investors who come to the UK and invest £5m will be allowed to settle here after three years and those that invest £10m or more will be allowed to settle after two. The amount of time that such individuals can spend outside the UK and still qualify for settlement is also being increased, from 90 days per year to 180 days per year. In addition, the rules for entrepreneurs are being very helpfully relaxed, so that investment of £50,000 can qualify if the proposed business is ‘high potential’ and the funds come…

16th March 2011 By Free Movement

New Zimbabwe Country Guidance out

The long awaited new Country Guidance case on Zimbabwe is finally out: EM and Others (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2011] UKUT 98 (IAC) (BAILII link here). It includes interesting guidance not only on Zimbabwean asylum claims but also on dealing with cases where children have been resident for seven years or more. The headnote is as follows: 1.  Evaluating the position as at the end of January 2011, the country guidance at paragraph 267 of this determination replaces that in RN (Returnees) Zimbabwe CG [2008] UKAIT 00083, as follows: (1)  As a general matter, there is significantly less politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe, compared with the situation considered by the AIT in…

14th March 2011 By Free Movement

iLegal legislation app review

The team behind the iLegal legislation app for iPhones and iPads has been kind enough to provide me with a review copy and I’ve had it running for nearly a week now. It is simple but effective little app that in essence provides an offline version of the revised Acts of Parliament on the legislation.gov.uk website (formerly the Statute Law Database). It is a universal app, so one purchase provides a version for both your iPhone and your iPad if, like me, you have developed an unhealthy and financially disadvantageous obsession with all things Apple (‘They look so nice! And they are so easy to use! And Toby, Sam, Josh,…

13th March 2011 By Free Movement

Damages denied for deprivation of permission to work

Mr Justice Collins has rejected a claim for damages by an asylum seeker who was kept waiting for over a year for a decision on his claim and whose application for permission to work was not decided by the Home Office. The case is R (on the application of Negassi) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWHC 386 (Admin) and it follows on from the earlier Supreme Court decision in R (on the application of ZO (Somalia) ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] UKSC 36. It seems likely that an appeal will be attempted. The ratio seems to come at paragraph 25: In my view, this is a…

8th March 2011 By Free Movement

Other Family Members issue referred to ECJ

The Upper Tribunal has finally referred the vexed question of the rights of ‘other family members’ (or ‘extended family members’ in the domestic EEA regulations) to the European Court of Justice. The reference was made by Mr Justice Blake, the President of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber. The questions are as follows: 1.           Does Article 3(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC require a Member State to make legislative provision to facilitate entry to and or residence in a Member State to the class of other family members who are not nationals of the European Union who can meet the requirements of Article 10(2)? 2.           Can such other family member referred to in Question 1…

4th March 2011 By Free Movement

Fresh claim judicial reviews transferred to Upper Tribunal

The date has finally been announced for transfer of fresh claim judicial reviews into the Upper Tribunal: 1 October 2011. This has been coming for some time and seems to have been held up by some confusion over the effect of BA (Nigeria). Section 53 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 will be commenced on that date and it rather looks like the necessary order under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 will also be made on or soon after then. However, this will only be in respect of judicial reviews lodged in England and Wales. It will not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland, at least initially. There is…

4th March 2011 By Free Movement

Libyans in the UK: update

The advice page on the UK Border Agency website for Libyans in the UK has been updated so that is now a bit more acceptable. It previously advised Libyans whose visas were reaching an end to leave the UK ‘as soon as possible’. See previous post on this. It now reads as follows: You should keep proof of original travel plans as evidence of your intention to comply with your visa requirements. You should continue to monitor the situation regarding travel advice to Libya, and make arrangements to return as soon as it is safe to do so. The advice still has some way to go before it reaches equivalence…

1st March 2011 By Free Movement

No return rule to be modified

There have been a number of interesting announcements by UKBA today, which I will add to the blog once I’ve had time to digest and consider. Most of them surround child detention and what is now being termed the ‘family returns process’. The first I’ll cover is a discrete issue, a change to the general grounds for refusal re-entry bans. It will become effective on 6 April 2011 by a Statement of Changes to be laid before Parliament on 15 March. The changes are described as follows: There will be a new, lesser two year ban for those who voluntarily leave the UK promptly at public expense rather than the…

1st March 2011 By Free Movement

Refusal with no right of appeal revisited

This is a problem that has been addressed previously on the blog: what can be done when a person makes an immigration application but for technical legal reasons is not granted a right of appeal to the tribunal? See this previous post. The problem has now been addressed in two linked cases in the Court of Appeal, R (on the application of Mirza & Ors) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 159 and R (on the application of Daley-Murdock) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 161. Mirza In Mirza, the claimants had all made immigration applications while they still had current leave. They had…

28th February 2011 By Free Movement

Libyans in the UK: ‘piss off’

[UPDATE: see more recent post] Remarkable: “The UK Border Agency is aware that the visas of some Libyans may expire before they are able to leave the UK, due to the current situation in Libya. Travellers transiting through Libya to other countries may also be affected. The agency appreciates that this is due to exceptional circumstances. You should keep proof of original travel plans as evidence of your intention to comply with your visa requirements. You should make arrangements to leave the country as soon as possible.” See here for original. Doesn’t seem terribly realistic to me. One would have thought the least we could do is tell them they…

25th February 2011 By Free Movement

Points Based System survey results

The Home Office have published the results of a survey on the Points Based System (full report, summary, both as pdfs). It makes interesting reading. Well, I say “interesting”, I actually mean “terribly dull unless you are freakishly interested in such things”. Like me. The report does not address Tier 4, only Tiers 1, 2 and 5. The results are very positive in terms of perception of the PBS by applicants and sponsors: Most also felt that the system is meeting its objectives of being easy to understand, open/transparent, use friendly, efficient and fair. There was no agreement that the system is any faster than the old one, however. There…

25th February 2011 By Free Movement

Medical treatment case: look away now

This is stomach turning stuff, I’m afraid, and has left me quivering with anger. A new case on Article 3 has just been reported: GS (Article 3 – health exceptionality) India [2011] UKUT 35 (IAC) The facts of the case and the medical evidence were undisputed. That evidence was as follows: “He (the respondent) is dependant on this treatment to remain alive and well, and would expect he would die after a period of one to two weeks if the treatment was discontinued.  (The respondent) is a good candidate to receive renal transplant, and we have been discussing with him whether any of his family could offer a live kidney…

24th February 2011 By Free Movement

Family proceedings and immigration cases

An important case from late last year has so far escaped comment here on Free Movement but deserves special mention: MH (pending family proceedings – discretionary leave) Morocco [2010] UKUT 439 (IAC) (28 September 2010). In it, the Upper Tribunal confirmed the currency of the earlier Court of Appeal of MS (Ivory Coast) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2007] EWCA Civ 133 and held that where there are ongoing family proceedings involving children, an immigrant should be granted a period of Discretionary Leave. Once the outcome of the family proceedings is known this then enables the immigrant to apply under paragraph 248A of the Immigration Rules if…

24th February 2011 By Free Movement

Mirza and Daley-Murdock

Quick alerter post, to be amended later: judgment in R (on the application of Daley-Murdock) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] EWCA Civ 161  is now available on BAILII and it looks like Mirza will follow soon. They were heard as conjoined appeals. The outcome of Mirza looks to have been positive from para 6 of Daley-Murdock: In the conjoined appeals we decided that in the case of those appellants who do have a right of appeal against a decision to refuse to vary their leave to remain a generalised practice or policy of separating that decision from a decision as to whether to remove them is contrary to…

23rd February 2011 By Free Movement

Quila and the spouse visa age

There have been several quite distraught sounding commenters on my previous piece on the outcome of the Quila case, which is understandably causing confusion. I thought it might be useful to set out what I understand to be the current legal position. The Secretary of State is appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision. The appeal process to the Supreme Court can be a drawn out one. First of all one has to ask for permission to appeal. A panel of Supreme Court judges makes a decision on whether permission should be granted. If so, it can be many months before a hearing is held. A decision on permission is expected in…

23rd February 2011 By Free Movement

Entry clearance discrimination authorised

  Immigration Minister Damian Green has authorised discrimination by visa officers on the basis of nationality. This follows on from a finding last year by John Vine, Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, that visa officers were discriminating against Pakistani visa applicants. See recent coverage here on the blog. Essentially, very different criteria and standards were being applied by the same visa officers depending on whether they were deciding Pakistani cases or other cases at the regional hub in Abu Dhabi. Rather than trying to eliminate the discrimination, treat all nationalities equally and create a level playing field, the response of the Government has been to institutionalise the discrimination…

18th February 2011 By Free Movement

New look

After a grand total of 50 votes, 74% of which were in favour of the new look, the new look is duly adopted. The four of you who hate the new look so much you plan to set up yet further ‘free movement’ immigration blog and update sites, good riddance. May you rest in the boring little corner of hell reserved for plagarists and John O. More seriously, I hope you like the changes and thank you for reading. You are not alone, it turns out: there are over 600 email subscribers to the blog, 236 Twitter followers and rarely less than 1000 unique readers per week day. You will…

13th February 2011 By Free Movement

Access to Justice

As you may be aware, the deadline for responding within the Legal Aid Proposed Cuts consultation is imminent i.e. 12pm 14.02.2011.  If you have not done so already, may I urge all legal aid firms, not-for-profit organisations and supporters of legal aid generally to send in their responses.  I will keep this post short for fear of nagging too much but as well as the ILPA response, the Law Society has now put together its own thoughts.  Relating to immigration matters, it agrees that: “Cases such as refugee family reunion, cases involving victims of domestic violence, deportation and other family applications usually involve complex legal issues including the Article 8…

10th February 2011 By Free Movement