It appears that UKBA have genuinely gone nuts. From tomorrow, 14 October 2009, they are requiring that any further submissions in an asylum case must be made in person by appointment. At the same time UKBA is now requiring that all initial claims for asylum made inside the UK (rather than on arrival at port) must be made at Croydon. It is no longer possible to claim asylum in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, it would seem.
Liverpool Asylum Screening Unit will no longer receive initial claims for asylum, only further submissions for claims made before 5 March 2007. Further submissions in claims made since that date can be made to regional UKBA teams but must still be made in person.
The press release can be found here and a statement by still Immigration Minister Phil Woolas here. There’s also a letter to stakeholders available here and the updated policy instruction is here. A new (non-compulsory) form and guidance is available here.
This really does seem mad. It means that if there is a change in circumstances in the country of origin and the asylum claimant wants to make submissions on it, he or she has to travel to Liverpool. If the asylum claimant receives a new document from abroad, it means a trip to Liverpool to hand it in. This simply isn’t going to happen – Liverpool is a long way from most places and travelling there on asylum support is impossible. Instead the new information will all come out if UKBA attempts to remove someone, at which point the fresh claim will have to be considered. The effect of this change is very likely to be an increase in last minute judicial review claims.
It is worth noting that the new policy does not obviously apply to Article 8 claims based on UK relationships or similar as it specifically refers to asylum cases.
As ever, there was of course no consultation on this. UKBA claims that legal representatives were involved in the drawing up of the non-compulsory further submissions form, but in reality the extent of that ‘involvement’ was simply to say that it was a very bad idea indeed and UKBA should not go ahead.