Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 15 December 2023

 Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 15 December 2023

This week, developments regarding the Rwanda Safety bill, proposed legislation threatening dangerous implications for asylum seekers and established human rights principles.

The Rwanda Safety bill’s introduction has raised immediate scrutiny from legal experts and humanitarian advocates, given its provisions to forcibly relocate refugees while circumventing conventions upholding their welfare. As Parliament considers the Rwanda Safety Bill aimed at deterring immigration, those contesting the bill have flagged potential consequences for vulnerable immigrant groups

The proposed Safety of Rwanda (Immigration and Asylum) Bill aims to enable the removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda to have claims processed there. However, it includes provisions limiting rights to challenge removal. Clause 2 forces decision-makers to definitively deem Rwanda as safe, while Clause 3 disapplies certain human rights laws. Although Clause 4 states individual circumstances can still be considered, the bar is extremely high to halt removal.

If passed, this Bill could still face legal challenges due to safety issues previously identified by UK courts regarding Rwanda. Critics argue that the Government must clarify whether Rwanda now meets humanitarian standards or acknowledge the Bill may knowingly endanger vulnerable people, while simultaneously blocking their ability to appeal.

There are reasonable questions around the Bill’s morality and necessity. If Rwanda has addressed risks, the Bill appears redundant. If not, Parliament is being asked to vote for a policy actively preventing proper examination of dangers faced by those removed. The general consensus is that the Government should transparently explain Rwanda’s current conditions so legislators can ethically evaluate the legislation’s implications. Rather than limiting established rights, integrity demands an open discussion on ensuring legitimate asylum processes that uphold Britain’s humanitarian values.

Far from ensuring safety, the Rwanda Safety Bill poised for debate this week undermines it by forbidding proper evaluation of a fundamentally unsafe asylum policy, and creates a perilous blueprint easily expanded to further erosion of rights.

Another important development of the week has been the Home Office’s release of Statement of Changes that addresses amendments on several policy areas. Changes support victims of domestic abuse and stateless individuals through new settlement routes. Requirements for EU citizens visiting or residing in Britain also received updates.

Stricter policies now exclude certain joining family members and reduce appeal rights for some decisions. Officials claim addressing backlogs requires complex visa processes, yet frequently altering rules risks confusion and barriers for legitimate applicants.

Streamlining cumbersome procedures could increase accessibility and efficiency. But new rules seeming to limit established rights demand transparency on intent and implications. If aiming to construct a fair system, open communication and ethical considerations should feature prominently.

Concerns flagged up with the announcement of an increase of income threshold for British sponsoring spouses in order to bring their non British partners to the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicated that transitional policies may be considered regarding the incoming £38,700 minimum income threshold for British citizens and settled residents seeking to sponsor foreign spouse visas. His statement comes in response to rising concerns that the stiffened financial requirements risk tearing families apart by denying re-entry for existing UK immigrant partners who fall below the raised salary bench-line.

Critics warn that applying the heightened wage floor to renewing applicants essentially exiles even established community members, should their household earnings drop due to job changes, pay cuts, health issues, etc. Sunak’s potential compromise suggests temporary exemptions allowing current visa holders time to meet the freshly imposed standard or otherwise navigate the policy shift. However, details remain unspecified.

With no indication made yet that this measure may be retracted, the possibility of the Government maintaining their stance on the increased income threshold remains high. The Government has already stated the adjustments to the salary threshold are intended to take effect in Spring 2024.

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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, see below.


Relief for Rishi Sunak as Rwanda bill passes first vote in Commons – The Guardian

Rishi Sunak narrowly avoided a major rebellion by right-wing Conservative MPs after they abstained on his controversial Rwanda Bill but the Prime Minister faces further peril in the new year.

In a blow to Sunak’s authority, more than two-dozen Tory right-wingers abstained in the vote on deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda, including the former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

MPs warned that the Prime Minister must strengthen the legislation or face it being voted down when it returns to the Commons in early January.

Sunak now faces weeks of chaos as he struggles to hold together his mutinous party, with the right-wing openly attacking his flagship Bill, while centrist One Nation MPs have warned they would be unable to support a toughened-up version.

For full report, click here

UK unveils support to tackle displacement and illegal migration – UKVI

An ambitious new package of support for refugees and the countries that host them is being launched by the UK at the United Nations Global Refugee Forum taking place in Geneva (13 December).

To continue to drive forward the work initiated at the first Global Refugee Forum, as well as the commitments set out in the recently published international development white paper, the UK is announcing 15 pledges to help people forced to flee their home, as well as the communities that host them.

For full report, click here

Bibby Stockholm: Asylum seeker on board barge dies –BBC News

An asylum seeker on board the Bibby Stockholm barge, which houses migrants off the Dorset coast, has died. Sources told the BBC that the man is thought to have taken his own life.

Migrants added that the man had complained about life onboard the barge before his death. The Home Office said welfare was of the utmost importance.

Dorset Police were called to the vessel, docked off Portland, just after 06:20 GMT on Tuesday and its officers are carrying out enquiries.

Downing Street said support continues to be made available to those on the barge.

For full report, click here

Rishi Sunak seeks to calm minimum income visa fears –BBC News

Rishi Sunak has said the government is looking at “transitional arrangements” for British citizens with foreign spouses who earn less than £38,700.

It comes amid warnings new visa rules will tear families apart. From next spring, British citizens and those settled in the UK must be earning at least £38,700 to bring in foreign family members. The government initially said the new rule would also cover people already in the UK who were reapplying for visas.

For full report, click here

Immigration turning UK into ‘ghetto’ where no-one speaks English –  Independent

Immigration is turning parts of the UK into a “ghetto” where no-one speaks English, a Conservative MP has said.

Nick Fletcher said Doncaster was full and that immigration needs to be tackled as the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill was read for a second time.

In a speech, which drew gasps and shouts of “shocking” from the Labour backbenches, Mr Fletcher said people “don’t expect to be called racist or xenophobic for saying ‘we liked it as it was’”.

For full report, click here

Stopping all deportation appeals not the British thing to do, says minister – The Guardian

Shutting out all legal appeals against deportation by people who arrive in the UK through irregular means would not be “the British thing to do”, the illegal migration minister has argued, as Rishi Sunak launched a last-ditch effort to head off a potential rebellion by his MPs.

As the prime minister hosted a group of potential rebels over breakfast on Tuesday morning, his new illegal migration minister left open the prospect that Conservative MPs who vote against the Rwanda bill on Tuesday evening could have the whip withdrawn.

For full report, click here

Why the outcome of the Rwanda bill mattered for Sunak – and the Conservatives – The Guardian

A rebellion by five separate right-wing caucuses within the Conservative party has continued the turbulence for Rishi Sunak’s leadership, although the government’s flagship Rwanda Bill passed its first Commons hurdle.

The legislation was designed to overcome concerns raised by the Supreme Court, which ruled last month that the previous policy for deporting people to Rwanda violated domestic and international law.

Sunak had been desperately trying to woo rebel MPs to support his legislation, but each group in the “five families” decided they could not support the Government’s draft legislation, saying before the vote that “the bulk of us will abstain”.

The alliance claims to represent more than 100 MPs. However, it appears that fewer than 30 deliberately abstained on Tuesday night – others were absent for legitimate reasons – and none voted against.

For full article, click here

Universities warn new immigration rules show Britain is ‘closing ranks’ – SKY News

New immigration rules could prevent universities from hiring the best international talent and send a message that the UK is “closing ranks”, higher education leaders have warned.

Academics and University bodies have told Sky News an increase in the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa effectively prices out early career academics and researchers vital to driving innovation.

Some 32% of academic staff at British universities are from overseas but this week Home Secretary James Cleverley announced the minimum salary threshold for a skilled visa would increase from £26,200 to £38,700, well above the early-career academic average of £30,000-£35,000.

For full article, click here

UK’s post-study visa scheme fuels low-wage migration, experts warn – Financial Times

The UK’s system of post-study work visas is likely to be fuelling low-wage migration rather than drawing “global talent” into high-skilled jobs, according to the committee tasked with reviewing the scheme.

In a report published on Tuesday, the independent Migration Advisory Committee said the introduction of the graduate route, which allows international students and their dependents to work in the UK for two years after graduation, had made the UK a “significantly more attractive destination” for those who wanted to enter its labour market.  

Even before its introduction in 2021, many international masters students worked in low-wage roles in their first year after graduation, and earned little more after five years, the MAC said.

Since then, a surge in international student numbers has been driven by enrolment at less selective, low-cost universities and the MAC believes there is “strong evidence” that the graduate visa is boosting the number of students who aim to stay in the UK longer term.

UK and allies sanction human rights abusers – UKVI

The UK, US and Canada have announced a sweeping package of sanctions targeting individuals linked to human rights abuses around the world, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December.

The UK is announcing 46 sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, in 2 categories.

For full report, click here


Abdi & Ors v Entry Clearance Officer [2023] EWCA Civ 1455

This recent Court of Appeal case examined principles of procedural fairness in relation to appeals involving the dependent family members of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. The Court considered whether individuals who may be negatively impacted by a decision have the right to present arguments beforehand that could lead to a positive outcome.

According to long-standing precedent, principles of fair process typically obligate decision-makers to inform individuals of specific concerns prior to finalizing conclusions, as well as provide adequate chance to address those issues. Thus, there appears to be an established duty to supply advance notification of worries a decision-maker possesses, in addition to facilitating a fair chance to respond to such concerns.

For full decision, click here 

The 3Million & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Anor [2023] EWCA Civ 1474

This appeal examined the legality of the Government’s second attempt to establish an immigration data exemption under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). The exemption aims to exclude certain rights conferred by the UK GDPR to data subjects.

The Court previously ruled twice that prior versions of this immigration exemption violated Article 23(2) and (3) of the UK GDPR. Given this background and the timeline since the Government’s latest appeal was filed, the Court determined any declaration of unlawfulness should be suspended for three months. This allows time for compliance. Extensions may be sought if unexpected circumstances necessitate, by applying in writing.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Lord Justice Singh, Lady Justice Laing, and Lord Justice Lewison, the Court dismissed the appeal.

The judgment enables the Government to revise its immigration exemption to align with UK GDPR data subject protections.

For full decision, click here 


  • Transparency data Ukraine Visa Schemes has been updated on 14th December 2023. To view the updated information, click here



  • Transparency data: Migrants detected crossing the English Channel in small boats has been updated on 13th December 2023. To view the updated information, click here


  • Collection: The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill has been updated on 12th December 2023. To view the Collection, click here


  • Policy paper: Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill has been published on 12th December 2023. To view the updated information, click here


  • Transparency data: Country returns guide has been updated on 12th December 2024. To view the updated data, click here


  • Impact assessment: Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill has been published on 12th December 2023. To view the report, click here


  • Policy paper: Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill 2023- legal position has been published on 11th December 2023. To view the Paper, click here


  • Policy paper: Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill has been updated on 8th December 2023. To view the updated Policy, click here


  • Correspondence: Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda – payments have been published on 7th December 2023. To view this Correspondence, click here


  • Immigration system statistics, year ending September 2023 have been released on 7th December 2023. To view the data, click here


  • Policy paper: Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 246, has been released on 7 December 2023. To view the full Statement, click here


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