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Supreme court strikes down Home Office’s back-door changes to immigration rules

Theresa May’s minimum income threshold for immigrants was never properly debated in parliament

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Just over a week since far-reaching new immigration rules took effect – which will permanently separate many British citizens or settled residents from their non-European spouses, children and ageing relatives – the home secretary has suffered a severe defeat in the supreme court. In the case of Alvi [2012] UKSC 33, handed down today, the court struck down a previous attempt by the Home Office to introduce substantive immigration requirements through the back door of policy, guidance or instructions, rather than in the body of the immigration rules themselves.

As a result, legal commentators anticipate an onslaught of legal challenges to the new rules, which rely extensively on accompanying guidance. Yet this is not the only challenge that Theresa May faces. On July 6 the High Court granted permission for a judicial review challenging the minimum income threshold required of certain applicants, and on July 4 the House of Lords issued a report questioning the validity of May’s approach to garnering parliamentary support for changes to the way in which human rights law should apply in immigration decisions.

The new rules were first laid before parliament on June 13 under the negative resolution procedure, meaning that no formal parliamentary ratification is necessary. The changes include introducing a new minimum income threshold of £18,600 for a British citizen or settled person to bring a non-EEA spouse or partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner to live in the UK. This amount rises to £22,400 for a partner and one child and by £2,400 for each additional child. The income must have been earned over a period of time and any support pledged by a third party (such as parents) is discounted, as well as the first £16,000 of the couples’ savings. Income earned by the foreign partner overseas or prospectively available through an offer of employment in the UK will similarly be ignored. Any discretion to vary or waive the threshold has been removed. This amount is several times the income support allowance of £5,795.40 per annum deemed sufficient for a UK couple, and used as the previous benchmark to determine whether migrants to the UK could be adequately maintained. According to the Home Office’s own assessment, around 45% of current applicants would not be able to meet the threshold. There will be a disproportionate effect on young people, women, disabled and older people, and the implication is that lower income families don’t have the same right to family life in this country.

Even for couples who are able to meet the financial hurdle, the minimum probationary period for settlement for non-EEA spouses and partners has increased from two years to five. Campaigners have highlighted the fact that vulnerable individuals, such as victims of domestic violence, will be most affected, as they will now be forced to remain even longer in an abusive relationship if they are to stay in this country. And for anyone wishing to bring an elderly non-EEA parent or other relative to the UK they will have to demonstrate that the person requires a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK. Love, commitment and financial wherewithal are no longer sufficient.

When a concerned MP asked May in parliament whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, he received no direct response. But the Home Office’s 60-page impact assessment, published with the rules, makes plain that the answer is a resounding no. Buried at the bottom of page 22 are the only two sentences addressing the personal cost: “There may be negative impacts on individuals prevented from sponsoring the settlement of a partner in the UK. It is not possible to accurately quantify this effect but it could be significant.”

In addition, the home secretary has sought under the new rules to dictate to judges how they should strike the balance between the public interest and an individual’s rights when applying Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to family and private life) in immigration and deportation appeals. In an attempt to give legal and constitutional validity to this approach, May convened a Commons “debate” on June 19. Yet this session appeared to cause more confusion, with one Manchester MP writing to a concerned constituent stating that there had been no debate. More damningly, the Lords in its July 4 report said that “The Home Office provides no evidence to support its view that the procedural approach it proposes will lead the courts to react in the way the Home Office anticipates.”

A common misconception is that these rules affect only foreigners. Tens of thousands of British citizens will also be affected. Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP for Ealing and Southall, tweeted last week: “I would not have been able to come to UK to join my family if these rules had been in place then.”

Family Outing to Cotsworld Wildlife & Gardens – Saturday, 11th August, 2012

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Building on the very successful family outing to Bournemouth on 30th June, 2012, there shall be another family trip to Cotsworld Wildlife Park & Garden on Saturday, 11th August, 2012.  Those interested in coming along should indicate so by 4th August, 2012 as this will enable the organisers to take advantage of the discount on offer for groups of 20 persons and more. The discounted rate is £10 for one adult and £7 for a child. Kindly also indicate the number of adults and children that will be coming. Kindly indicate your interest to any executive members of ZISWA.

Parking is free at the venue. People are urged to bring along picnics.

Bournemouth Family outing for ziswa members held on 30/06/2012

Rule Changes coming into effect on 9 July 2012 affecting non EU migrants

Theresa May has announced significant changes to the immigration rules .The changes are part of the Government’s programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. The changes include:

Overall, there are a number of significant changes for family members, in particular those seeking to bring non-EEA spouses and partners to the UK will face new barriers to their entry and settlement in the future. Based on news coverage and the Home Office website, it seems that the major changes will be:

New income threshold of £18,600 for those wanting to sponsor a non-EU spouse or partner – increasing to £22,400 for one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child. This falls short of the potential level of £25,700 which was on the table and which the home secretary was apparently pushing for. According to a study at the Migration Observatory at Oxford University these changes will mean that, of British citizens in employment:

  • 47% will not qualify to bring in a family member.
  • 58% of people aged between 20 and 30 will not qualify to bring in a family member compared to 35-45% of people aged between 30 and 60.
  • 61% of women and 32% of men will not qualify to bring in a family member. • 48% of people in Scotland will not qualify to bring in a family member.
  • 51% of people in Wales will not qualify to bring in a family member.
  • 46% of English residents will not qualify to bring in a family member.
  • 29% of Londoners will not qualify to bring in a family member.
  • The areas of England with the lowest eligibility are Mersyside, where 56% of people will not be eligible, North West England (53%) and Yorkshire and Humberside (52%).
  • Extension of the period before non-EU migrants here on a spouse or partner visa can apply for indefinite leave to remain, from 2 to 5 years. In addition to this the spouse will need to make an application for an extension of leave to remain after an initial period of 2 1/2 years followed by another application after the period of 5 years has been completed. This extension of the period of leave will cause uncertainty for families. During this period the spouse will not be able to access public funds but will be able to work.
  • Requirement that, from October 2013, all people applying to settle in the UK will need to pass an intermediate level English language test and pass the ‘life in the UK’ test. Currently, applicants can either take the Life in the UK Test or take combined English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and citizenship classes – the system is geared towards accommodating different skills in language ability. This means that the change will impact in particular those without strong English reading and writing skills.
  • Removal of the right of appeal for people refused family visas. However, leaked figures from the Home Office last year suggested that a high proportion of family visit appeals – around 36% – are successful. This suggests that the problem is not with the appeals system, but with the initial decision-making by the UKBA…
  • Restrictions on the ability of non-EEA adult and elderly dependent relatives to settle in the UK, limiting this to those who require long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here, and requiring them to apply from overseas. Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain for adult dependant relatives have been abolished. All applications will have to be made from outside the UK.
  • Removal of the 14 year long residence rule – the 14 year long residence rule will be abolished for all applications submitted after 9 July 2012. The period of leave to remain which is lawful and unlawful has been extended to 20 years residence before a person can qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain where they have had periods of unlawful residence.
  • It seems that the majority of these changes (unless otherwise stated) will come into force one month from now, on 9th July – but will only apply (with the exception of the increased settlement English and Life In  the UK tests from October 2013) to people given leave to enter or remain in the UK under these routes after that date.

RBM Solicitors, Coventry

New family visit visa appeal regulations

The government laid the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2012 in Parliament on 18 June 2012, which set out who qualifies for a full right of appeal against refusal of a visa to visit family in the UK.

These regulations will come into effect from 9 July 2012. No changes are being made to the rules governing who can qualify for entry to the UK as a visitor and genuine visitors are welcome.

These regulations will change the appeal rights of family visit visa applicants, for those applying to visit their uncle, aunt, nephew niece or first cousin, or a relative who does not have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status in the UK. They will no longer have a full right of appeal if refused. A limited right of appeal will remain for these people on human rights and race discrimination grounds.

As previously announced on 11 May 2012, the Crime and Courts Bill will, subject to Parliamentary approval, remove the full right of appeal against all family visit visa refusals. It is expected to come into force by 2014.

Ukukula Meeting – Monday, 4th June, 2012

Notice is hereby given that Ukukula will hold its meeting on 4th June, 2012 at 10:00 hours.  The venue is 61 Chandos Close, Grange Park, Swindon, SN5 6AQ.  Mr. Gracewell Mwansa from Birmingham, a former captain of industry, will give an investment talk.

The meeting is primed at finalising arrangements for launching an investment project in Zambia arising from the meeting addressed by the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Prof. Nkandu Luo in April, 2012.

President Sata to address investors in London on 7th June

PUBLIC NOTICE

The Commonwealth Business Council in conjunction with the Zambian Government will hold a Special Session on Investing in Zambia, at Mansion House from 11am on 7th June, 2012. HE Michael Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, will give a keynote address titled “A New Vision for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Africa.”

The Special Session will also include presentations from the Honourable Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Honourable Robert Sichinga, MP, and the Director General for the Zambia Development Agency, Mr. Andrew Chipwende.

This event will be part of the Diamond Jubilee Commonwealth Economic Forum on 6th and 7th at Mansion House.

The Commonwealth Business Council have kindly agreed to allow access to this special session to guests of the Zambian High Commission.

DATE : Thursday, 7th June, 2012
TIME : 11.00 – 13.00 hrs (only)
VENUE : Mansion House, London EC4N 8BH

All those who would like to attend this Special Session must confirm their participation with Mrs. Ikayi Mushinge, Counsellor (Economic) at the Zambia High Commission on any of the following by Wednesday 30th May:

Email : IMushinge@zambiahc.org.uk
Tel : 020775896655 / 07979124090
Fax : 02075811353.

Those who have not registered with the High Commission in advance will not be able to access the venue. This invitation only extends to the Special Session from 11.00-13.00 and is not for the full Commonwealth Economic Forum.

If you would like to attend the full Forum, which is a paid event, please visit www.cbcglobal.org for further details or contact Kiran Luchmun (kiran.luchmun@cbcglobal.org; 02070248271).

 

Didier Drogba to carry flame through Swindon on Olympic torch relay

The 34-year-old is expected to be greeted by thousands of people when the torch arrives at Wharf Green, in Swindon town centre, at 1.35pm.

It may be his last public appearance as a Chelsea player as he has agreed a deal with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, but reports that Drogba was in tears telling team-mates about his exit have been denied.

Drogba will become the latest well-known figure to carry the flame after Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie, rock band Muse, triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, and The Voice judge Will.i.am all donned the white shell suit and took the cheesegrater on a 300-metre journey.

Will.i.am said: “I’m a huge Olympics fan. I want to see the swimming match, I want to see Usain Bolt.

“I want to see if he’s really that fast because I want to race him one day. I wouldn’t win but I want to see how close I would come.”

The star said he was amazed at the number of people who had turned the relay through Taunton into a real family occasion.

“I just saw everyone coming out, excited that the running of the torch was here in their neighbourhood, in their city and pride for the city,” he said.

“To see families and little kids and their parents and everyone just having a good time – I am so glad I came here. It’s great people, great energy, a great vibe.

“There’s one area, it’s like a village of houses and it looked like the neighbourhood I came from in Boyle Heights, where the neighbours looked after the neighbours, and it looked like a real community and that reminded me of the community I come from.”

(The Telegraph)

Bournemouth Trip Postponed to 30th June, 2012

Notice is hereby given to all members of ZISWA that the family trip slated for 2nd June, 2012 has been postponed to 30th June, 2012.  All the other details remain the same.  Members are encouraged to make early accommodation arrangements.  We have scouted out Travelodge, citylode at citylodge.co.uk and Premier Inn in Poole (which is about 15 minutes from Bournemouth) as possible places members can book accommodation with. 

 Further announcements with regards to this Family Trip will be advised in due course.

UKUKULA FORMED!

Following the meeting that was addressed by the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Professor Nkandu Luo at the Zambian High Commission in London on 17th April, 2012  whereat Zambians in the diaspora were urged to take part in investing in differrent sectors to aid the construction of housing units in Zambia, a group of Zambians met on 7th May, 2012 to chart the way forward of how to participate in this investment idea.

A decision was taken to form an investment network called UKUKULA to which any interested Zambian is free to belong and invest. This will be a member governed network where all investing families will be represented on the management board in order to promote transparency and integrity in the management of funds.

The networ has set itself a target of raising £30, 000 in the next six months to kickstart the whole project.  The network members will make monthly investments in a designated account in the United Kingdom. 

A follow up meeting  is scheduled for bank holiday, 4th June, 2012 at 10:00 hours.  Those interested in attending and/or investing are welcome to attend.  Expressions of interest and more details can be provided by requesting for them at ukukula@yahoo.co.uk

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