Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 1 March 2024

 Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 1 March 2024

This week, the UK government continued its efforts to address migration challenges. The Home Secretary signed a new working arrangement with Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. This framework aims to provide the UK with additional intelligence and capabilities to strengthen security at the borders between the UK and EU. It represents the latest component of the government’s broader strategy to curb illegal migration and target criminal smuggling networks. This strategy has already contributed to a one-third decrease in small boat crossings last year, even as migration numbers rose sharply elsewhere in Europe.

In a major speech in New York, the Home Secretary has spearheaded an international push to reform global migration policies. This represents an ambition to galvanize a unified global response, recognizing that mass migration can only be addressed through collective action and coordination between nations. The Home Secretary will urge the international community to come together in tackling this complex issue.

Additionally, the UK continues to play a leading role in the Global Coalition against Daesh. This coalition of 83 partners is committed to defeating Daesh through military operations, disrupting financing, stemming foreign terrorist fighters, supporting stabilization initiatives, and degrading Daesh’s narrative. The UK’s involvement exemplifies its commitment to addressing threats beyond its borders.

The UK government’s zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and association with terrorist activity was recently reaffirmed in the Supreme Court case of Begum v Secretary of State for the Home Department. In this ruling, the UK Supreme Court held that the Secretary of State acted lawfully in denying Shamima Begum entry to the UK to appeal the removal of her British citizenship. Despite being unable to physically appear or give evidence, Ms. Begum chose to proceed with her appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). This landmark decision underscores the government’s unwavering commitment to countering terrorism and barring known extremists from returning to the UK, even when that results in effective exile. The Begum case exemplifies the government’s strict enforcement of policies designed to protect national security interests and keep the British public safe from those affiliated with terrorist causes or activities.

On Business Immigration, the long-awaited Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on salaries for skilled immigrant workers was published this week. This rapid review provided an initial look at the new Immigration Salary List (ISL) recently announced by the Home Secretary as part of an effort to reduce net migration. The ISL replaces the previous Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and removes the 20% salary discount that was applied to occupations on the SOL.

The MAC review notes that further clarity is still required regarding the purpose and usage of the new ISL. One main benefit of being on the ISL is access to reduced salary thresholds for shortage occupations. However, the minimum salary thresholds across all categories are set to substantially increase in April 2024, as outlined by the Home Secretary in December. For most skilled workers, the threshold will rise from £26,200 to £38,700. Shortage occupations outside healthcare will increase from £20,960 to £30,960, while healthcare workers will have a lower threshold of £23,200.

The MAC points out these higher general thresholds will essentially render the skilled worker route unattainable for many occupations after the changes take effect. A more comprehensive ISL review will be conducted later this year. According to the Financial Times, MAC chair Professor Brian Bell said the Government needs to further clarify its aims, as the new salary levels will close the visa system to most non-graduate jobs in practice.

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Full list of updates on media news, reported case law and Home Office Policy and other document updates, as reported below 


Suspected members of Albanian people smuggling ring arrested – UKVI

Two suspects, both Albanian nationals, were arrested as Immigration Enforcement teams carried out a series of raids in Finsbury Park, London.

They are believed to be part of a network using fake travel documents and airline tickets to book 27 Albanian migrants onto UK-bound flights, instructing them to claim asylum using their passports on arrival. The arrests led to the discovery of Class A drugs, and one of the men was later arrested on suspicion of drugs supply.

For full report, click here

UK and Frontex agree work to crack down on illegal migration – UKVI

The government has agreed a working arrangement with Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

The arrangement is the latest step in the UK’s plan to tackle illegal migration and criminal gangs. This plan has already seen small boat crossings fall by a third last year while numbers arriving in Europe rose steeply.

This long-term framework will provide the UK with access to new levers and intelligence to make the UK and EU’s borders safer and more secure.

For full report, click here

Government extends stay for Ukrainians in the UK – UKVI

Government provides certainty and stability for Ukrainians, with visa holders now eligible to stay for an additional 18 months.

Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal invasion have been provided with certainty, as the government announces a new visa extension scheme.

From early 2025, all those in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to apply to stay here for an additional 18 months and continue to have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education throughout their stay. This will mean that those who came on the first visas under one of the Ukraine visa schemes could now stay in the UK until September 2026.

For full report, click here

Global community must take collective action on migration – UKVI

The Home Secretary, on his visit to the USA, calls on the international community to unite to tackle the issue of migration. To read the full speech by the Home Secretary, click here

Daesh: UK government response – UKVI

The UK is playing a leading role in the Global Coalition – a unified body of 83 partners committed to degrading and defeating Daesh through military action, stifling Daesh’s finances, preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, supporting stabilisation efforts degrading Daesh’s poisonous and false narrative.

For full report, click here

Warnings of economic damage to UK as international student numbers fall by a third – The Guardian

Immigration restrictions imposed on international students threaten to damage the UK economy, according to university leaders, with the number enrolling from overseas falling by a third.

Universities UK (UUK), which represents mainstream universities and colleges, said the government’s new curbs, coupled with steep visa fee increases and threats to cut back on graduate work entitlements, are having a negative impact on the UK as a study destination.

Data from more than 60 UK universities shows that the number of study visas issued has fallen by 33% this year compared with the same time last year. A separate survey of 70 universities by UUK found that enrolments in postgraduate taught courses were down by more than 40% since January’s immigration changes.

For full report, click here

Sacked UK borders watchdog says home secretary must shake up his department or risk security breaches – The Guardian

The UK’s sacked borders watchdog has urged James Cleverly to shake up the Home Office or risk further major security breaches amid warnings that key immigration policies including plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda will now lack oversight.

David Neal, who was fired last week as the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said that ministers will have to “depend on the judgment of senior officials who in the past failed to expose security risks” because no one has been recruited to replace him and scrutinise the department.

For full report, click here

One person dead and two missing in Channel boat incident – The Guardian

One person has died and two others are missing in the Channel after an incident involving a small boat, French rescue services have said.

According to the Préfecture maritime Manche et mer du Nord, four French-led rescue operations took place in the Channel on Wednesday, coordinated by the regional operational surveillance and rescue of Gris-Nez. Officials said 179 people trying to cross the Channel were rescued.

 For full report, click here

Former BA employee allegedly orchestrated £3m immigration scam from Heathrow check-in desk

A former British Airways employee is reportedly under investigation over allegations that he orchestrated a £3m immigration scam from a Heathrow check-in desk.

The 24-year-old suspect left his job and moved to India after being bailed over the claims, according to the Times. The BA check-in supervisor is alleged to have charged people £25,000 to wave them through Terminal 5 and on to planes without valid visa documents. A source told the Guardian the alleged incident is believed to have involved helping people circumvent immigration laws to get into Canada, and that the passengers had the correct documentation to be in the UK.

For full report, click here

Jamaican man to be deported from UK after previous attempt was halted by fellow passengers – The Guardian

A Jamaican man whose deportation was halted last November after passengers on a BA flight from Gatwick to Kingston protested when they witnessed him being restrained on board, is due to be deported on Sunday.

Lawrence Morgan, 27, has convictions for serious firearms and drugs offences. During the Home Office’s attempt to deport him last November, passengers on the flight protested after seeing him being restrained by escorts at the back of the plane.

For full report, click here

Hundreds jailed for coming to UK in small boats to claim asylum – The Guardian

Hundreds of people, including children and victims of trafficking and torture, have been convicted and jailed for arriving in the UK in small boats to claim asylum, according to a report.

The prosecutions have largely slipped under the radar, although the issue has been highlighted by the case of the Senegalese teenager Ibrahima Bah. He was sentenced to nine years and six months detention after being convicted of four counts of manslaughter and one of facilitating a breach of immigration law after steering an overcrowded dinghy that got into difficulty, leading to the drowning of at least four people.

For full report, click here

C of E reviews guidance for clergy on supporting asylum seekers – The Guardian

A review into guidance for clergy on supporting asylum seekers is under way as a matter of urgency, the Church of England’s parliament has heard alongside a claim of “buck-passing” between the government and the church.

The church has recently faced scrutiny from politicians over asylum seekers’ conversions to Christianity. One Conservative MP even suggested taxpayers are being “scammed” by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on the issue.

For full report, click here

Home Office accused of cover-up over ‘golden visas’ for super-rich Russians – The Guardian 

The government has been accused of a cover-up for refusing to publish a review of the so-called golden visa scheme that allowed wealthy investors, including at least 10 sanctioned Russian oligarchs, to take up residency in the UK.

The Tier 1 visa scheme, whereby super-rich individuals could buy the right to live in the UK by investing in British-registered companies, was closed in February 2022 after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid concerns that the system was being abused.

For full report, click here

NHS dentists: Exam could be scrapped for overseas applicants – BBC News

The government is considering plans to allow dentists from abroad to work without taking an exam to check their education and skills.

The proposal, which is subject to a three-month consultation, aims to address the severe shortage of NHS dentists. It is hoped a quicker process would attract more dentists. The British Dental Association has accused the government of avoiding the issues “forcing” dentists to quit. The proposal forms part of the government’s £200 million NHS Dental Recovery Plan for England announced earlier this month.

For full report, click here



Begum v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWCA Civ 152

The UK Supreme Court has held that the Secretary of State acted lawfully in refusing Ms Begum leave to enter the UK for the purposes of her appeal to SIAC. Ms Begum elected to proceed with that appeal, notwithstanding that she could not give evidence or be physically present.

For official summary of decision, click here


FA (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWCA Civ 149

The Court of Appeal has overturned a First-tier Tribunal decision in an asylum claim from an Iranian national. The appellant, a Kurdish Iranian, entered the UK in 2019 and sought asylum based on fear of persecution for his political views and Facebook activity criticizing Iran’s government. The First-tier Tribunal rejected his claim, distinguishing his social media posts from precedents and finding no risk as a refused Kurdish asylum seeker.

On appeal, the Upper Tribunal improperly considered a later country guidance case. The Home Office conceded this was an error.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Upper Tribunal should have concluded the First-tier Tribunal failed to apply the correct country guidance in force at the time. By allowing the appeal, the Court found fault with both tribunal decisions regarding the Iranian asylum seeker’s case and the impact of his online political activism.

For full decision, click here


Rapid review of the Immigration Salary List – Migration Advisory Committee, February 2024

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a quick review on Friday of the new Immigration Salary List (ISL) that will replace the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The review notes that more clarity is needed on the purpose of the ISL, which provides reduced salary thresholds for shortage occupations. It points out that substantial increases to the general salary thresholds taking effect in April 2024 – from £26,200 to £38,700 for most skilled workers – will make the skilled worker visa route unavailable for many occupations. The MAC highlights that a key benefit of the ISL – reduced salary requirements – will be undermined by the threshold increases announced in December by the Home Secretary as part of a plan to cut net migration. A fuller review of the ISL will be conducted later this year.

To download  full report, click here

The Mental Health of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK – Mental Health Foundation, February 2024.

A new report from the Mental Health Foundation examines the heightened risk of mental health issues among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. It presents evidence on how the traumatic experiences faced by these groups before, during, and after their journey to the UK can lead to mental health struggles, including suicidal feelings. Factors like social isolation, discrimination, poverty, and lack of access to services in the UK are linked to emotional distress. By outlining the economic, social, and cultural challenges asylum seekers and refugees face, the report highlights their vulnerability to developing mental illnesses as a result of seeking refuge in the UK.

To download the full report, click here

“No Such Thing As Justice Here – The Criminalisation of People Arriving to the UK on small boats – report by Vicky Taylor, February 2024

A new report from Border Criminology and the University of Oxford’s Centre for Criminology reveals that asylum seekers crossing the English Channel by boat are facing arrest and imprisonment in the UK, with substantial procedural and legal injustices occurring in Kent courts. The report’s findings are based on extensive research, including observing over 100 court hearings, interviewing legal professionals involved in the cases, and collecting first-hand accounts from criminalized asylum seekers. By drawing on direct court observations, interviews, and asylum seeker testimonies, the report provides evidence of significant problems in the criminalization and judicial treatment of Channel-crossing asylum seekers in Kent.

To download the full report, click here



Guidance: Ukraine Permission Extension scheme information has been published on 28th February 2024. To view the latest Guidance, click here.  

Transparency data: Migrants detected crossing the English Channel in small boats has been updated on 28th February 2024. To view the latest Guidance, click here

Guidance: Immigration Rules archive: 19 February 2024 to 21 February 2024 has been published on 27th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here





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