Some great news on the re-entry ban saga.
There was an unusually good debate in the Commons last night, when several MPs managed to put the screws on Liam Byrne, the Minister, and extracted three excellent concessions. All credit to those responsible, who appear to be Simon Hughes, John Spellar and Fiona McTaggart. They were well briefed by a number of organisations and Steve Symonds and Alison Harvey at ILPA have yet again done some brilliant work mitigating the worst effects of idiotic government proposals.
The concessions are:
“First, we will not automatically refuse applications from people applying to join their family permanently in the UK—that is to say, those applying for visas as a spouse, civil partner or unmarried or same-sex partner under paragraphs 281 or 295A of the immigration rules; a fiancée or proposed civil partner, as set out in paragraph 290 of the rules; a parent, grandparent or other dependent relative, as set out in paragraph 317; a person exercising rights of access to a child, as set out in paragraph 246; or a spouse, civil partner or unmarried or same-sex partner of a refugee or person with humanitarian protection, as set out in paragraphs 352A, 352AA, 352FA and 352FD. Following some of the comments made by hon. Members this evening, I will of course check to see whether we have cast the scope of those exceptions correctly, but my initial analysis is that that is where the discretion should apply.
Secondly, we will not automatically refuse anyone who is under the age of 18 at the time of the breach of the immigration rules. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North spoke powerfully on this subject, as did the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey. That case has been well made.
The clarification that I want to make underlines comments that I have made to the Committee of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) in the past that there should be a carve-out for victims of trafficking. We will put that into effect when we have ratified the Council of Europe’s convention on trafficking.”
It isn’t clear whether there will be a rule change or some sort of policy guidance. Far and away the most sensible thing to do is change the rules themselves to reflect the minister’s announcement. As readers may have previously observed, the Home Office is hardly known for being sensible…
Many applications have already been refused under the unamended rules, as previous comments on this blog show. Anyone affected should contact the entry clearance post concerned straight away and ask for a review. It will take months and months for an appeal in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal to be listed, unfortunately, so it is better to go straight to the visa office responsible in the first place.