In the recent case of MS and others (family reunion: “in order to seek asylum”) Somalia  UKAIT 00041 the tribunal looked at the refugee family reunion rules and came to the slightly surprising conclusion that not all refugees have the same rights.
A recognised refugee who arrived in the UK and made a formal claim for asylum as defined in the immigration rules is allowed to sponsor family members to come in from abroad under the special refugee family reunion rules at immigration rules 352A to 352F.
A recognised refugee who did not make a formal claim for asylum is not allowed to do so. The tribunal held that such a person has not ‘left the country of his former habitual residence to seek asylum’. Such refugees might include refugees sur place (who left their country for other reasons but due to a change at home have now claimed asylum), Gateway refugees, refugees recognised as such in another country but who have moved to the UK or refugees who themselves entered as family members of other refugees.
Some might say that this decision eliminates one possibility for ‘chain migration’ (a term that always causes a little bit more of me to die inside in protest) but the numbers affected are very small. Many immigration lawyers will have come across cases where a spouse enters under the family reunion rules but the original refugee dies or disappears. Under the previous more liberal interpretation, such a person would be able to bring in their own and the original refugee’s children. Not any more though.
Unless, of course, the decision is overturned on appeal. As the growing ‘Tribunal overturned again‘ category on this blog shows, this isn’t exactly infrequent. I can say with some assurance that the legal team has sought permission to appeal and is still waiting. If you are interested, you can even read the grounds of appeal.