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

Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #7


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Welcome to the weekly Free Movement newsletter!

The Home Office has announced that Ukrainians who are here under one of the existing schemes will be “permitted to extend their visa”. This process will require an application, and that process will only open early next year. In the meantime, people will continue to face problems renting properties or finding jobs due to the short term nature of their leave, and this will only worsen as the expiry date for their current grant of leave approaches.

A statement of changes has just been published which makes other changes to the Ukrainian schemes, including closing the Ukraine Family Scheme from 3pm today (Monday). My full write up of that will follow later today. 

The3million reported another outage for digital status holders over the weekend, anyone who was affected should report it to them so they can continue to collect evidence of the problems caused by the lack of a physical form of immigration status. And while we are on the EUSS, here are some more stories of people who are trying to navigate the late application process.  

David Neal, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, has rightfully described as “scandalous” the government’s plans to leave his role vacant over the period they intend to roll out the Rwanda scheme. In the meantime, the list of completed inspections that the Home Office is sitting on and holding up the publication of is up to 14, the oldest of which is dated April 2023. 

The final day of committee stage of the Safety of Rwanda Bill in the House of Lords is today, and it is expected to be a late one. For anyone who hasn’t yet booked, do remember that Colin is giving a webinar on this and the Illegal Migration Act in a couple of weeks. 

In other Free Movement training news, we have updated our course on naturalisation for members. There were also a few updates on domestic abuse routes, as our guide on in country applications was updated to take account of Appendix victim of domestic abuse and Nicole Masri wrote this very important article on the risks the changes to the destitute domestic violence concession create for certain groups. Today we have published Nath Gbipki’s excellent explainer on the new out of country route, victims of transnational marriage abandonment.

There was confirmation from the Home Office last week that they have paused consideration of tens of thousands of asylum cases that are waiting for a decision on inadmissibility. The latest in my regular series of “Home Office behaving badly” case writes up is also out. 

Read on to see everything else from Free Movement last week, as well as what we have been reading elsewhere. 

Cheers, Sonia

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What we’re reading

Great British Betrayal – Lighthouse Reports, 19 February

Diego Garcia asylum seekers feel unsafe on remote British island territory – BBC News, 17 February

UK has ‘no strategy’ for housing asylum seekers, says borders’ chief inspector – Financial Times, 16 February

Teenage asylum seeker secures High Court permission to challenge illegal migration laws – The Irish News, 13 February

Legislative scrutiny highlights human rights failings of Rwanda Bill – Joint Committee on Human Rights, 12 February

Research reveals structural weaknesses in Windrush Compensation Scheme remain as legal challenge of refusal to provide legal aid to victims is to be heard – King’s College London, 13 February

‘I felt like a criminal’: the ruinous effect of the Home Office’s cheating claims – The Guardian, 19 February

The migrant boost: How immigrants to Australia are lifting wages – Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February

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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.