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Shifting goal posts


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goal-postsThe Home Office do like to shift the goal posts. Sometimes this is because they lost another legal case and want to get around it, sometimes it appears to be for no reason at all and sometimes, just sometimes, it seems to be for clearly explained and understandable policy reasons.

The increase in the residence requirement for settlement was an understandable policy change. Previously immigrants needed to complete at least four years before being eligible for settlement, but in 2005 the Home Office re-wrote the rules and required everyone to complete at least five years.

Many immigrants were understandably upset by this, particularly those who were nearing the end of the four year qualifying period, whose leave ran out at that time and who suddenly needed to make very expensive immigration applications for a further year of leave to remain. Those with families who had to pay the additional fees for family members were no doubt furious. As usual, the Home Office failed to make any sensible transitional arrangements, such as waiving fees, only applying the policy to new entrants to the UK or similar.

Worse, though, some immigrants who had been specifically told they would be eligible for settlement after four years were also required to pay the aditional fees and complete the additional year. Some of those immigrants, represented by the HSMP Forum, just won their second case against the Home Office on this issue of shifting goalposts. Good on them.

The Home Office have announced that they are “currently looking into implementing the court’s decision”. Do not hold your breath. We had to wait months for the Home Office to consider their position after Metock and are STILL waiting for them to implement Baiai, in which the House of Lords held the marriage policy to be discriminatory and unlawful. The Gurhkas recently won another High Court hearing in which a judge held that the Home Secretary’s failure to implement an earlier judgment was itself unlawful – and in the meantime at least one of the potential beneficiaries of the case had tragically died.

The Home Office’s disregard for the rule of law is a disgrace.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


9 Responses

  1. FM couldn’t agree more, however the last sentence really deserves to be much more acerbic, perhaps….”The Home Office’s [unwavering contempt] for the rule of law is a disgrace.”

    I would imagine in each case it’s not only administrative inertia: there’s a strong political angle to their lack of movement.

  2. Unwavering contempt is about right, actually, and not just in the area of immigration law either. We only have to see what they have done about the DNA database after last year’s ECHR case of Marper and “S”. Absolutely nothing.

  3. I think it was Lord Falconer on TV who said “the law is the law and they are going to have to obey it”. The context then was the Catholic adoption agencies new legal requirement to place some of the children with gay and lesbian couples.
    (Man’s laws v God’s laws issue.)

    So why the HO’s “disregard for the rule of law”?
    Law makers seem to have an arrogance about them; as they can make the law, therefore they should not be subject to the law, or at least should have special privileges. Politicians just seem to be the most public of these figures, and the recent expenses fiasco is just one example. (Although I think the Met police are presently trying to steal the limelight with the G20 incidents)

    It may even stem back to the idea that “Parliament has absolute authority to make law”. It goes back a few centuries, and it is a long time since I studied law, but the concept troubled me then, and more now. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

  4. I was one of those who was mere months away from completing their fourth year when this change came through. But the absolutely glacial pace of the first JR and now this have meant that I’ve already got my citizenship and all this is really just a hollow victory. I’d personally just like the HO to stand up and take responsibility for the lives they destroyed, but of course, that will never happen. I’m just glad I’m done with this whole immigration shambles and of continually having rules changed and prices raised again and again.

    1. Congratulations on your own success. I often think that by the time migrants have gone through the whole rigmarole of getting settlement and becoming British, they are hardly going to be grateful for the shoddy way in which they have been treated along the road. On the other hand, it perhaps is a good introduction to the perils of British bureaucracy and is a citizenship class in itself!

  5. “STILL waiting for them to implement Baiai”

    However, since 9th April 2009, COA applications are now FREE.
    Even I’m surprised !

    1. Thanks, Mr T. I only spotted this myself today and it probably deserves a short post.