Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 10 November 2023

 Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 10 November 2023

In the news this week, an investigation report unfolded that the deadliest Channel crossing disaster in over 40 years, which claimed 27 lives in November 2021, was compromised by confusion and poor coordination between UK and French authorities. The failed rescue operation identified the wrong boat, while a Border Force cutter rescued others that night. Separately, newly obtained documents show UK coastguards downgraded 999 calls from boats in distress carrying 155 people, potentially violating policy. These revelations raise serious questions around Channel crossing operations and emergency response capacities.

Speaking of concerns, doubts have emerged over the costs and efficacy of housing asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland. The Home Office recently slashed planned capacity on the barge from 500 places down to just 425, calling into question whether this floating accommodation solution makes economic sense. With pressure already intense on the asylum system, the Home Office must pursue options that balance compassion for asylum seekers with accountability to taxpayers. The barge may not achieve that balance.

Amid the turmoil, a small measure of relief came this week for young asylum seekers. The Court of Appeal overturned the rejected claim of an Iraqi Kurd in ASO (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWCA Civ 1282, determining that previous tribunals had failed to properly consider evident flaws. This ruling highlights the vital role of the courts in checking asylum decisions, requiring proper procedures and fair treatment of all evidence.

Recently published statistics showed over 7,500 minors have languished more than a year without decisions, with some disgracefully waiting over 5 years now. Rather than providing vulnerable children with security and stability, the Home Office’s backlogs leave them in detrimental uncertainty during pivotal years. Their plight underscores the burning need for asylum reforms that account for children’s unique needs and vulnerabilities. Justice delayed is justice denied.

On an optimistic note, the UK and Japan agreed this week to expand the youth mobility scheme. This will allow 6,000 young people per year to access coveted working holiday visas, up from just 1,500 previously. The deal provides greater cultural exchange and life experience for young adults from both nations. As the UK strengthens ties with Indo-Pacific partners, the pact also serves domestic labour needs through flexible youth migration. The expanded mobility does offer fresh possibilities and signals positive cooperation. As we head toward 2023, such glimmers of hope and progress will be essential.


 Business Immigration News

With the licensed sponsor registry updated this week, it’s crucial for organisations to maintain robust compliance systems. Penalties for employing illegal workers remain severe, including licence revocation. As the registry expands, thorough right-to-work checks and record keeping per Home Office guidance protects sponsors and maintains the UK’s world-class migration system.

With heightened scrutiny on sponsor obligations and migrant rights, immigration advisors will benefit from staying up-to-date on Home Office policies. HJT’s live online course, Home Office Audits scheduled on 21st November, provides timely guidance on recent audit regimes and Rule changes. See our Home Office Audit blog post here

For a full list of our course archive, visit here


 Mastering Immigration Law 

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This and more are covered in our Immigration News Weekly Roundup. The full list of updates on media news, reported case law and Home Office Policy and other document updates below.



UK expands Japan Youth Mobility Scheme – PIE News

The UK Foreign Office will be expanding the Youth Mobility Scheme for Japan in the coming year, it has announced.

The deal was announced as foreign secretary James Cleverly met with Japanese officials at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, ahead of the G7 meeting in the city. It means that by Spring 2024, there will be 6,000 places available on the scheme each year in place of the previous figure of 1,500.

For full report, click here

Government expands list of safe countries allowing more removals – UKVI

The Government will add India and Georgia to a list of safe states to speed up process of returning people who have travelled from either country illegally.

Draft legislation laid in Parliament on Wednesday 8 November will strengthen the immigration system and help prevent abuse, including by people making unfounded protection claims. This marks another next step in the delivery of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and Government’s plan to stop the boats. 

For full report, click here  

UK police report domestic abuse victims to immigration, shows data – The Guardian

Domestic abuse victims are being reported to immigration officials when they turn to the police for help, according to data published by an independent watchdog.

43 police forces in England and Wales and the British Transport Police have all referred victims or survivors of abuse to immigration enforcement in the last three years, prompting urgent calls for reform of the system.

For full report, click here

Failure to save 27 lives in Channel exacerbated by confusion and lack of resources – The Guardian

Attempts to save 27 people who drowned in the deadliest Channel disaster for more than 40 years were compromised by confusion, lack of resources and poor communication between the UK and France, a report has found.

A failed operation to reach a stricken dinghy on 24 November 2021 identified the wrong boat, the report says. A Border Force cutter rescued 98 people in three other boats that night, but not those on the dinghy carrying the 27 who died.

For full report, click here

Afghan former interpreter with British army resettles in UK after legal battle – The Guardian

An Afghan former interpreter with the British army has resettled in the UK with his family after a lengthy legal battle with the government, more than two years after being initially approved for relocation.

Prior to the Taliban takeover, Ahmad worked as an interpreter in Helmand province. In late 2020 he was approved for relocation to the UK before later facing a Home Office refusal, and missing the opportunity to evacuate as Britain and international allies withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021.

For full report, click here

Thousands of lone child asylum seekers left in limbo by Home Office, data shows – The Guardian

Thousands of lone child asylum seekers have been left in limbo by the Home Office without a decision on their protection claims, with dozens waiting more than five years, official data has revealed.

Home Office data shows that over the past three years more than 7,500 children who travelled alone to the UK waited more than a year for an initial decision on whether or not to accept their asylum claim.

For full report, click here

Bibby Stockholm: number of asylum seekers to be housed on barge reduced – The Guardian

Questions have emerged over the cost-effectiveness of the Bibby Stockholm barge after the Home Office reduced the number of asylum seekers it plans to house on the vessel.

The floating accommodation for asylum seekers harboured in Portland port, Dorset, was initially supposed to house about 500 people, but the Home Office has reduced this to a maximum of 425.

For full report, click here

Revealed: UK coastguard downgraded 999 calls from refugees in days before mass drowning – The Guardian

UK coastguards downgraded 999 calls from refugees pleading for help as they headed to England days before the worst Channel disaster for decades, new internal documents reveal.

HM Coastguard potentially breached its own policy by categorising 999 calls from distressed passengers on as many as four small boats carrying 155 people as not in need of urgent rescue, according to analysis of incident logs obtained by the Observer and Liberty Investigates.

For full report, click here

Watchdog criticises Home Office for dropping farm worker visa review – The Independent

The head of independent watchdog for immigration has criticised the Home Office for failing to publish a promised review of the UK’s seasonal worker scheme.

David Neal, the government-appointed independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI), made the comments after The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) discovered that the Home Office no longer plans to conduct and publish the review he called for last year.

For full report, click here



Secretary of State for Work & Pensions v AT [2023] EWCA Civ 1307

The Court of Appeal recently delivered a judgment in Secretary of State for Work & Pensions v AT, building on previous key cases regarding the rights of those with pre-settled status under the Withdrawal Agreement. AT, a domestic violence victim who fled her home after IP completion day, successfully argued she had preserved rights under Article 13. The judgment provides an in-depth analysis of Parts 1 and 2 of the Withdrawal Agreement, finding the continued applicability of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

It concludes that denying AT benefits would breach her dignity rights under Article 1, rejecting arguments that ‘systemic compliance’ or theoretical Children Act remedies were sufficient.

The court refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. AT was represented by Thomas de la Mare KC and Tom Royston, instructed by the Child Poverty Action Group legal team, who acted in previous related cases.

For full report, click here

ASO (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWCA Civ 1282

Appellant is an Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker, who arrived clandestinely in December 2017 and claimed asylum shortly after. Appellant’s claims for protection were previously refused, based on alleged risks from political activities, honour-based violence due to sexual activity, and inability to obtain identity documentation.

The Court of Appeal found error in earlier rulings, determining that the Upper Tribunal had erred in failing to identify flaws in the First-tier Tribunal’s rejection of Appellant’s protection claim.

The Court of Appeal judgment overturned the previous findings and supported Appellant’s asylum appeal.

For full report, click here



Charting New Waters: A Progressive Policy response to the Channel Crossings, report by Marley Morris and Amreen Qureshi, October 2023, IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Researc

A report published last week by the Institute for Public Policy Research offered an alternative approach to managing asylum seekers arriving in the UK by small boats across the English Channel.

While the government has claimed success in reducing such crossings, the IPPR argues that current policies are ineffective, having little impact on arrival numbers. The think-tank warns that the likely failure of the Rwanda policy and Illegal Migration Act will create a ‘perma-backlog’ of people trapped in limbo, unable to claim asylum or be removed. The IPPR proposes new policies to create safe routes, improve integration, and establish a humane, controlled system.

The report challenges the government’s narrative and presents a progressive vision for asylum reform.

To download the report, click here


  • Policy Paper: UK REACH -alternative transitional registration model (ATRm) has been published on 9th November 2023. To view the Paper, click here


  • Ukraine Visa Schemes: visa data has been updated on 9th November 2023. To download the data, click here


  • Guidance: Register of licensed sponsors – workers has been updated on 9th November 2023. To view the Register, click here


  • Guidance: Register of licensed sponsors has been updated on 9th November 2023. To view the Register, click here


  • Guidance: Asylum decision caseworker guidance has been updated on 8th November 2023.To view the Guidance, click here


  • Collection: Tuberculosis testing Home Office approved clinics has been updated on 7th November 2023. To view the Guidance, click here


  • Guidance: Vanuatu tuberculosis test clinics for UK visa have been updated on 7th November 2023. To view the Guidance, click here


  • Guidance: Algeria tuberculosis test clinics for a UK visa have been updated on 7th November 2023. To view the Guidance, click here


  • Caseworker Guidance: Permission to work has been updated on 7th November 2023. To view the Guidance, click here


  • Form: Unaccompanied asylum seeking children – statement of evidence has been updated on 3rd November 2023. To view the Guidance, click here


  • Collection: Funding instruction on UK resettlement programmes has been updated on 1st November 2023. To view the updated Collection, click here



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