The Home Office do like to shift the goal posts. Sometimes this is because they lost another legal case and want to get around it, sometimes it appears to be for no reason at all and sometimes, just sometimes, it seems to be for clearly explained and understandable policy reasons.
The increase in the residence requirement for settlement was an understandable policy change. Previously immigrants needed to complete at least four years before being eligible for settlement, but in 2005 the Home Office re-wrote the rules and required everyone to complete at least five years.
Many immigrants were understandably upset by this, particularly those who were nearing the end of the four year qualifying period, whose leave ran out at that time and who suddenly needed to make very expensive immigration applications for a further year of leave to remain. Those with families who had to pay the additional fees for family members were no doubt furious. As usual, the Home Office failed to make any sensible transitional arrangements, such as waiving fees, only applying the policy to new entrants to the UK or similar.
Worse, though, some immigrants who had been specifically told they would be eligible for settlement after four years were also required to pay the aditional fees and complete the additional year. Some of those immigrants, represented by the HSMP Forum, just won their second case against the Home Office on this issue of shifting goalposts. Good on them.
The Home Office have announced that they are “currently looking into implementing the court’s decision”. Do not hold your breath. We had to wait months for the Home Office to consider their position after Metock and are STILL waiting for them to implement Baiai, in which the House of Lords held the marriage policy to be discriminatory and unlawful. The Gurhkas recently won another High Court hearing in which a judge held that the Home Secretary’s failure to implement an earlier judgment was itself unlawful – and in the meantime at least one of the potential beneficiaries of the case had tragically died.
The Home Office’s disregard for the rule of law is a disgrace.