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Unsuccessful High Court challenge reminder to adhere to visa conditions


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The High Court has dismissed a challenge to the decision to cancel two individuals’ permission to remain in the UK because they exceeded the number of hours they were permitted to work. Shah & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWHC 3033 (Admin) is a useful reminder of the importance of abiding by the specific visa conditions in a grant of leave.  

Mr Shah and Mr Anwar were both in the UK on student visas which permitted them to work up to 20 hours per week in term time. Following a raid on their place of work by immigration officers on 27 September 2021, they were each interviewed regarding their employment and right to work. Both admitted to working significantly more than 20 hours per week during term time and were arrested at the conclusion of the interview on suspicion of breaching the conditions of their leave. Their leave was also cancelled (or “curtailed”, as it used to be called).

They challenged the decision to cancel their leave on several grounds, including that their answers in the interview had been misinterpreted, that the interviewing officer was rude during questioning, and that the officers failed to contact their employers to verify the information provided. The court dismissed each argument, finding that they both made clear statements regarding how many hours they worked in the interview and failed to present any persuasive evidence to the contrary:

“Making all allowances for the language difficulties, and the stress of the ‘dawn raid’, the PRONTO records show careful questioning and apparently unambiguous admissions. Mr Shah had an interpreter. Mr Anwar said he did not need one.

Whether or not the admissions are in fact true is not the issue before me. Whether they were a safe and proper basis for the decisions to cancel the Claimants’ leave is the issue. I am perfectly satisfied that they were, and these decisions were lawful.”

The claimants also sought damages for unlawful detention, which is why the case was heard in the Administrative Court instead of the Upper Tribunal. These fell away when the challenge against their visa cancellations failed. 

Although none of this breaks new ground, it serves as a useful reminder to be careful in abiding by the conditions of leave and the severe consequences that can arise from a breach.

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Alex Piletska

Alex Piletska is a solicitor at Turpin Miller LLP, an Oxford-based specialist immigration firm where she has worked since 2017. She undertakes a wide range of immigration work, including family migration, Points Based System applications, appeals and Judicial Review. Alex is a co-founder of Ukraine Advice Project UK and sits on the LexisPSL panel of experts and Q&A panel. You can follow her on Twitter at @alexinlaw.