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Home Office abandons “centre of life” test in Surinder Singh cases


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The Home Office has updated its guidance on Surinder Singh cases to remove all reference to a “centre of life” test. This follows the case of ZA (Reg 9. EEA Regs; abuse of rights) Afghanistan [2019] UKUT 281 (IAC) in which the Upper Tribunal found that the test was made-up nonsense and incompatible with EU law.

Surinder Singh is an immigration route that allows British citizens who have moved to another EU country to return with non-European family members, bypassing the strict rules on UK family visas that apply to people who have not exercised free movement rights. The Home Office has always hated what it sees as a backdoor, and from 2014 demanded proof that Brits trying to avail of Surinder Singh had moved the centre of their life to the EU country in question. That this was clearly incompatible with the EU law on the subject did not bother officials.

With the Upper Tribunal finally saying so explicitly, the Home Office has bowed to reality and stripped the centre of life test from its decision-making manual. The document now states:

Any previous references to a ‘centre of life’ requirement are no longer relevant following the determination in the case of ZA (Afghanistan) (UKUT 281 2019).

The precise legal status of the Surinder Singh route now that the UK is no longer formally a member of the European Union is complicated, to say the least. But for the time being it remains open and can be applied for via the EU Settlement Scheme.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.