Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

Circumventing immigration controls NOT always an offence


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

"The Home Office said people should claim asylum in the first country they reach, adding: "Anyone who tries to circumvent immigration controls to enter the UK is breaking the law."

The Guardian, 9 August 2013

No, no, NO! Less than a fortnight ago Lord Justice Leveson said he wanted to kill ‘stone dead’ the problem of the wrongful conviction of refugees charged with unlawful entry offences. Then this week this idiot at the Home Office grossly misstates the law.

If you are a refugee you are NOT breaking the law if you circumvent immigration controls. You have a defence under section 31 of the Immigration Act 1971.

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Colin Yeo

Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


8 Responses

    1. you can always read the legislation on http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ just enter the name of the act IE: “Immigration Act”, you can either post the year to limit the results (but its usually better to view all the years)… then scroll down to the relevant section…
      Law is always changing, and you can view relevant sections and ammendments the same way IE: Title: European Economic Year: 2013 would limit your results (currently) to The Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2013

      However, FM: you state Immigration Act 1971, isn’t it S31 of Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. ?

  1. Would they count arriving in the UK from Ireland as circumventing immigration given the absence of UKBA officers at Heathrow?

  2. If a person who arrived from Ireland claims asylum in the UK, the HO would likely refer to the EU rule “Dublin II” which provides that Ireland, as the first safe country reached, is responsible for the application. (And the other way around.) There is some case law on the blog about Dublin II returns, but not relating specifically to Ireland.

    1. What if the person doesn’t leave the airport, as the airport is still Intl ground…? But in most cases, I daresay this is true. (Except, they cannot apply the rule to Children now…)

  3. The international zone, ie. between arrival and presentation to an immigration officer, or between arrival and onward transit, is still part of the territory of the country concerned and it can apply its laws there.

    However to claim asylum in the arrival area the claimant will have to state this intention to an IO, so the normal procedures would commence.