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

Free Movement Weekly Immigration Newsletter #8


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First of all, a huge thank you and congratulations to all those who worked so hard on their responses to the Review of Civil Legal Aid call for evidence, which closed last week.

I promise this isn’t one of those situations where I am subtly trying to communicate that I’ve been kidnapped, but – I agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg and Jonathan Sumption. The former, in an article for the Spectator, referred to the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive Shamima Begum of her British citizenship as “wrong and ought never to have been made”. The latter wrote to the Guardian a year ago today, which I have quoted at the end of my write up of the Court of Appeal’s decision in her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship. An appeal to the Supreme Court, and further if necessary, seems certain. 

In other appalling news from last week, Ibrahima Bah, a young Senegalese man (not Sudanese as I mistakenly put in the newsletter, apologies), was sentenced to nine years and six months’ imprisonment for gross negligence manslaughter and facilitating illegal entry after a small boat sank in the Channel in December 2022. We published an explainer last week on how the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 has expanded the criminalisation of those who cross the Channel, however the use of the manslaughter charge in this way seems to be a concerning new development. To state the obvious, the people smugglers are not the ones getting into these boats and putting their own lives in danger.

The Home Office is no longer even pretending to welcome scrutiny, after David Neal, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration was dismissed last week, just a few weeks before his contract was due to end. The government was unhappy with his speaking about some of the contents of the pile of unpublished reports. A replacement inspector seems unlikely to start under this government.

On Free Movement last week, I wrote up what was already due to be a damaging statement of changes, removing the right of those who come to the UK as care workers to bring their family with them. What we didn’t know would be happening was the Home Office closing the Ukraine Family Scheme with no notice. The government claimed that people would be able to use the Homes for Ukraine Scheme instead, not mentioning that they had also made changes to that scheme which would dramatically reduce the ability of people to bring Ukrainians to safety in the UK. 

Our newest webinar has been launched with a 20% discount is available until 15 March, the wonderful Barry O’Leary will be explaining how to use exceptional circumstances in family-based immigration applications. These applications will become increasingly important once the minimum income requirement for partner applications increases. Also, don’t forget that Colin is giving a webinar on the Safety of Rwanda Bill and the Illegal Migration Act next week. 

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’ve been reading

‘All they want is the chance to clear their names’: The English-language test scandal – Runnymede Trust, 22 February

High Court begins hearing lead cases arguing UK is not a safe third country due to Rwanda policy – Irish Times, 20 February

Prosecutors target smuggled people who were forced to pilot small boats – The Guardian, 23 February

Gaza family takes legal action against Home Office over visas – BBC News, 23 February

Revealed: Government hiding truth about Russian oligarchs’ visas – Democracy for Sale, 24 February

Final hearing imminent in Bibby Stockholm planning challenge – Deighton Pierce Glynn, 20 February

Human Trafficking: Government Response to the Committee’s First Report – Home Affairs Committee, 22 February

Shamima Begum ruling shows UK wants to wash its hands of such prisoners – The Guardian, 23 February

The mental health of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK – Mental Health Foundation, 21 February

How a small town in England opened its arms to Ukraine – Politico, 23 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.