Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights today published a report on the Government’s Immigration Bill.
The report raised significant concerns over the reduction in appeal rights, stating: “We are concerned that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions is not compatible with the common law right of access to a court or tribunal in relation to unlawful immigration decisions, and the right to an effective remedy. Indeed, limiting rights of appeal to the extent that they are restricted in the Bill constitutes a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful immigration and asylum decisions, and to enforce the statutory duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when exercising immigration and asylum functions.”
The section of the report dealing with appeal rights is available here.
In a press release, the Committee stated: “The Committee believes that the First Tier Tribunal, not the Secretary of State, should decide whether it is within its jurisdiction to consider a new matter raised on an appeal. It therefore recommends that the Government amends the Bill to achieve its purpose in a way which does not appear to make the scope of the tribunal’s jurisdiction depend on the consent of one of the parties to the appeal before it. The Committee is also not satisfied with the Government’s reliance on the continued availability of judicial review to challenge the Secretary of State’s certification that a human rights appeal can be heard out of country, having regard to the unavailability of civil legal aid to bring such a claim and the proposed reforms of judicial review.”
The report also found the Bill could give rise to homelessness and discrimination.
The press release stated:
“The Committee accepts that the measures in the Bill serve the legitimate aim of immigration control, but is concerned that some of them may be applied in practice in a way which breaches human rights in particular cases.
The Committee is particularly concerned about the risk of the new provisions relating to residential tenancies giving rise in practice to homelessness, in breach of the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment in Article 3 ECHR, in the case of people who have no right to remain in the UK but face genuine barriers to leaving. The Committee is also concerned to ensure that these measures do not give rise to an undue risk that migrant children will be exposed to homelessness or separation from family members. The Committee urges the Government to explain fully to Parliament the safeguards that exist to mitigate the impact of these provisions on children.
The Committee is also concerned that the provisions in the Bill on access to residential tenancies may heighten the risk of racial discrimination against prospective tenants, notwithstanding the fact that such discrimination is unlawful under the Equality Act. The Committee is asking the Government not to commence these provisions until the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Government Equalities Office are satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent such discrimination from arising in practice.”
Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said: “My Committee is especially concerned about the restrictions on accessing residential tenancies according to immigration status, as these may expose children, and other migrants who have no right to be in the UK but face genuine obstacles to leaving, to the risk of homelessness, and could be applied in a way which is racially discriminatory. We likewise believe that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions, when considered alongside other proposals such as a residence test for legal aid and restrictions on judicial review, represent a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful decisions.”
Following feedback from customers and partners, UKVI service standards have changed for applications made within the UK since 1 January 2014.
Processing times for straightforward applications are listed below. If your application is more complex and a decision cannot be made within that time, we will write to you to explain what happens next.
Applications received before 1 January 2014 will remain subject to the standards in force at the time they were submitted.
Processing times for applications made within the UK
|Customers applying to remain in the UK on a temporary basis as: a spouse, workers, Tier 1 General and entrepreneurs, students, and organisations seeking to sponsor a worker||8 weeks (10 days priority postal and same day premium)|
|Employers applying in the UK to update and maintain their licence details||18 weeks|
|Customers applying in the UK to remain permanently (or naturalise as British) and applicants from Turkey and Croatia to live, study or work||6 months|
A number of Immigration applications are refused because applicants fail to adhere with the conditions on their visa. The Immigration Rules defines “public funds” as the following:
(a) housing under Part VI or VII of the Housing Act 1996 and under Part II of the Housing Act 1985, Part I or II of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, Part II of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 or Part II of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988;
(b) attendance allowance, severe disablement allowance, carer’s allowance and disability living allowance under Part III of the Social Security Contribution and Benefits Act 1992;, income support, council tax benefit and housing benefit under Part VII of that Act; a social fund payment under Part VIII of that Act; child benefit under Part IX of that Act; income based jobseeker’s allowance under the Jobseekers Act 1995, income related allowance under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007 (employment and support allowance) state pension credit under the State Pension Credit Act 2002; or child tax credit and working tax credit under Part 1 of the Tax Credits Act 2002;
(c) attendance allowance, severe disablement allowance, carer’s allowance and disability living allowance under Part III of the Social Security Contribution and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992;, income support, council tax benefit and, housing benefit under Part VII of that Act; a social fund payment under Part VIII of that Act; child benefit under Part IX of that Act; income based jobseeker’s allowance under the Jobseekers (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 or income related allowance under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007;
(d) Universal Credit under Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 or Personal Independence Payment under Part 4 of that Act;
(e) Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment or any domestic rate relief under the Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Act 2013;
(f) a council tax reduction under a council tax reduction scheme made under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 in relation to England or Wales or a council tax reduction pursuant to the Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regulations 2012 or the Council Tax Reduction (State Pension Credit) (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
Immigration Analysis: Compliance, Enforcement, and Policy
Today’s immigration environment is ever-changing and increasingly complex. Last week the campaign to end new rules on family migration took a major step forward with a debate in the House of Lords, followed by a significant judgment in the High Court.
Further changes to the Immigration Rules will continue to happen and the Home Office will make changes to their policy, which will impact both individuals and companies who sponsor migrants to work in the UK. Most notably, regulatory requirements are fluctuating and enforcement actions are aggressive. ICS Legal, with its depth of experience and broad global reach, is uniquely positioned to offer analysis, commentary, and up-to-the-minute information about the impact these changes will have.
Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration concerned by poor decision making at Dhaka and Warsaw visa sections
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, today released investigation reports on the Home Office’s Dhaka and Warsaw visa sections.
The Chief Inspector found the customer service at both visa sections was good, but the quality of decision making was poor.
A press release quoted him as saying: “I was pleased to find that customer service targets were being met across most of the categories of visa applications we inspected at both visa sections, and there was a genuine commitment to improving customer service standards.”
“However, the quality of decision-making was poor in all the visa categories I inspected at both Dhaka and Warsaw. It is vitally important, if the visa application process is to be fair and transparent, that the Home Office corrects these serious failings in its decision making. Given the poor level of decision quality the Home Office should also review the target for Other Visitor applications in Warsaw to bring decision quality and ultimately customer service to an acceptable standard.”
The press release also noted that the Chief Inspector found in Dhaka:
• customer service targets were being met in the majority of the Family Visitor, Other Visitor and Tier 4 cases. However, targets for settlement visa applications were not being met;
• a number of initiatives had been implemented to improve customer service, including extended opening hours for Visa Application Centres and a shortened registration process
• staff were committed to addressing correspondence and complaints promptly and aimed to provide a full response to applicants within five working days;
• an effective working relationship between the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) and entry clearance staff, was helping to tackle visa abuse;
• problems with half of the cases examined including; misinterpretation of evidence or failure to take account of positive evidence provided by applicants; not retaining relevant supporting documentation; not recording clear grounds for their decision; and refusing applicants for failing to provide information, the need for which they would not have been aware of at the time of making their application;
In Warsaw the Chief Inspector found:
• despite a 460% increase in application volumes since July 2012, Other Visitor applications were being processed within 12 days. This was a good performance;
• files were provided in a timely manner, indicating an efficient file storage and retrieval process and information security and data protection issues were treated seriously;
• the quality of decision making was poor. The decision to refuse the visa could not be maintained in 12% of the cases in our file sample. In a further 24% of the cases there were issues with the quality of decision making;
• the level of quality control conducted by ECMs in Warsaw was inadequate. In the 10 months to July 2013 an average of only 10% of refusal decisions were reviewed and between February and April 2013 this fell to just over 3%;
• ECOs in Warsaw had a benchmark target to process 45 Other Visitor applications per day. This equated to just 10 minutes per application;
• the RALON risk profile was not aligned with the actual refusal rates. Countries which did not feature on the profile had relatively high refusal rates whilst countries which were thought to be high risk had lower refusal rates.
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