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

Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #10


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Welcome to the weekly Free Movement newsletter!

Apparently since 7 October 2023 every entry clearance application made from Gaza has been rejected by the Home Office. That was the position up to the date of disclosure in this judicial review by a Palestinian refugee trying to bring his family to the UK, and there is no reason to think that things would have improved since then. Even with my low expectations of the Home Office I found it incredible that this judicial review was needed, given we have already been here with Afghanistan, following which specific guidance was published that is supposed to cover situations like this.

In other news of poor decision making, last week saw not one but two quick reversals of visa refusals for artists by the Home Office, following public outcry. A Moroccan poet Soukaina Habiballah was due to attend an international poetry festival in Scotland, and an Afghan youth orchestra based in Portugal who were playing at the Southbank Centre in London. These decisions risk the diversity of the arts that we enjoy in this country, as artists of certain nationalities are likely to be discouraged from even trying to come here in future, given the amount of work that goes into preparing these events, all of which can be put at risk by an arbitrary decision from the Home Office.  

Today the changes preventing care workers from bringing their family with them to the UK have come into force. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has published an article looking at the horrific experiences some people in this route are having, and the difficulties faced in raising them. Today’s changes are only likely to make matters worse as people are left isolated and without family support.

On Free Movement, following the recent and unexpected closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme and our detailed explainer, we have also organised a webinar looking at what immigration options Ukrainians and their family members now have. The webinar is on 15 April 2024. The 20% discount for this and the webinar on exceptional circumstances in family immigration applications is available until Friday.  

In other training news, as our May OISC live training course has sold out, we have now launched the next one for July, which I will be teaching. These do tend to sell out quite far in advance so booking early is recommended. 

On the blog, first of all just to flag up that the Home Office has announced a pause on decision making for certain victims of modern slavery subject to deportation proceedings following this decision. Also, I have tackled all 150-odd pages of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on asylum casework and my write up of that is definitely worth a read (through your fingers).

Finally, for anyone who wants to learn more about what they can do to resist the hostile environment, there is a really interesting series of seminars being run again this year. Stand Up, Speak Out is targeted specifically at those working in the public sector, but it will be of use for anyone working in the immigration and asylum sector. 

Read on for the rest of the week on Free Movement and elsewhere. 

Cheers, Sonia

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What we’re reading

Call for evidence launched on Electronic Border Management – Justice and Home Affairs Committee, 1 March

Asylum accommodation & Rwanda: Public Accounts Committee launches inquiry – Public Accounts Committee, 5 March

Home Office ordered to release data on five people that died in its asylum-seeker accommodation in first six months of 2023 – The Civil Fleet, 8 March

‘I thought I was going to die’: The reality of life on controversial asylum barge Bibby Stockholm – The Big Issue, 7 March

Baby scan clinic humiliated and degraded black worker – Wales Online, 10 March

The Borders Inspector and Home Office accountability – Law Gazette, 6 March

The curious tale of how RNLI lifeboat crews became a target for right-wing hate – The Big Issue, 5 March

Has higher immigration saved the Chancellor again? – UK in a Changing Europe, 7 March

Faulty £71m Home Office IT system causes immigration errors and leaves staff ‘sobbing’ – iNews, 9 March

The (many) costs of border control – Border Criminologies, 6 March

Looking tough on migration is eroding human rights – Politico, 6 March

The Dillon Judgment, Disapplication of Statutes and Article 2 of the Northern Ireland Protocol/Windsor Framework – EU Law Analysis, 8 March

‘I live in an asylum hotel – the Government has forgotten we’re people and not parcels’ – Birmingham Live, 2 March

Civil legal aid review: MoJ kicks timetable into long grass – Law Gazette, 6 March

Victims of modern slavery are being held in UK prisons – Geographical, 4 March

‘Dysfunctional’ Home Office in need of reform, sacked borders watchdog says – Independent, 11 March

Home Office admits it does not tell families when asylum seekers die in its care – Guardian, 10 March

Rwanda bill: House of Lords inflicts further defeats on government plan – BBC News, 7 March

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.