Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 19 January 2024

 Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 19 January 2024

We end this week with the breaking news on the controversial Rwanda deportation bill. The Bill has passed the Commons, despite opposition complaints it represents a concerning expansion of executive power. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak immediately pressed the Lords to approve the legislation, arguing any resistance would amount to undemocratically frustrating the elected Commons.

However, crossbench peer Lord Carlile condemned the Rwanda policy as a “step towards totalitarianism” and signalled the Lords may yet block the bill’s passage. The legislation remains divisive, with civil service unions alleging new rules will improperly compel staff to violate international law if ministers insist on proceeding with Rwanda flights despite human rights injunctions.

The Home Office also recently implemented long-overdue increases to financial support for pregnant asylum seekers and young children, linking rates to an inflation-adjusted program for the first time since 2003. This can be viewed in the updated Asylum Support (Amendment) Regulations 2023.  By linking the payments to ‘Healthy Start,’ a benchmark program indexed to inflation, the Home Office aims to address these longstanding concerns. Though overdue, the decision signifies an important step in ensuring pregnant asylum seekers and young children can access adequate support as they await the outcome of their asylum claims in the UK. The 20-year gap between rate increases raises questions about how frequently rates will be re-evaluated going forward to avoid similar neglect. While welcome, the 20-year gap prompts questions if support will be regularly re-evaluated going forward.

In the courts, a High Court judgment in Medical Justice, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWHC 38 (Admin) deemed unlawful a Home Office policy allowing officials to obtain second medical opinions on vulnerability reports for detained immigrants. The court found the policy delayed consideration of evidence and risked harm to already vulnerable individuals.

In another important ruling, in SN and LN v Zamestnik-predsedatel na Darzhavna agentsia za bezhantsite (Directive 2011/95/EU) Case C-563/22, Opinion of AG Emiliou the European Court of Justice established that Palestinian refugees can claim UN protection has ‘ceased’ based on general living conditions in Gaza, without proving individualized risk.

The decision stems from multiple Palestinian asylum cases in Europe contending that poor living conditions and infrastructure collapse in Gaza negated UNRWA’s capacity to protect refugees. UNRWA disputed this interpretation, arguing that general hardship was insufficient to end its mandate.

In rejecting UNRWA’s stance, the European Court of Justice established that asylum adjudicators must consider the broader regional context. Specifically, factors like access to electricity, drinkable water, and other critical services are relevant when evaluating if UNRWA’s protection has ceased. The ruling will impact many Palestinian asylum applicants by easing the burden of proving individualized risk. More broadly, the judgment crystallizes the complex relationship between UN agencies and refugee resettlement obligations.

This judgment will ease the evidentiary burden for many Palestinian asylum applicants.

On a positive note, from 31 January 2024 ease current visitor visa legislation to allow remote working while visiting the UK, recognizing modern flexible work patterns. But the primary trip purpose still cannot be remote work.

With deportations to Rwanda now being an open threat, do not forget to book your spot for our live online course, Certification, Inadmissibility and The Rwanda Regime.  Delivered by HJT Director and industry expert, David Jones,  this timely course will cover in-depth analysis to equip you with the knowledge integral to an immigration advisor’s practice as deportations resume. With vulnerable migrants still exposed to risk of deportation flights amid ongoing legal uncertainty, this is a prime opportunity to further gain updates of this professionally important issue. More information or to book click here.

The planned increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will make family visa applications even more costly. On top of the minimum income threshold rising for spouses seeking to join their partners in the UK, the IHS hike adds a significant additional burden. With the IHS fee jumping 66%, families already struggling to meet the financial requirements will be hard hit.  The IHS increase risks pricing out low- and middle-income families, preventing them from reuniting with partners and children in the UK. While healthcare funding challenges exist, the IHS disproportionately impacts families and undermines efforts to create a fair and equitable immigration system.

Do seize the opportunity to attend HJT’s live online course: Appendix FM Pathways for Partners and Settlement with Expert Brendan Beder to address the upcoming changes to the Rules. More info or to book, click here.

Immigration advisors face the challenge of keeping pace with the UK’s rapidly changing regulations. To help make sense of this shifting landscape, immigration expert Mark Symes provides an essential guide decoding complex and evolving policies across all areas. This vital reference empowers advisors to stay current by demystifying even obscure immigration rules and nuances. By distilling the latest requirements and guidance into one indispensable resource, Symes equips advisors with up-to-date knowledge to counsel clients confidently despite transforming regulations. With immigration policies frequently revised, leveraging this reliable and current reference manual helps advisors master both longstanding and newly updated rules. By arming immigration advisors with the most current information needed to navigate dynamic times, this guide is an invaluable resource for providing effective counsel amidst the UK’s fluctuating immigration system.

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Ongoing education is key for immigration professionals facing rapidly changing policies. HJT Training offers accredited CPD courses across business, family, and settlement pathways and exam preparation for staying current. As regulations transform, trusted training keeps advisors equipped with in-depth knowledge.

At HJT, we aim to provide immigration advisors the insightful training needed to excel in this climate of change.

For a full list of course scheduled for this year, visit our course archive here.

For enquiries, contact us or call 075441 64692.

For the full list of updates on media news, reported case law and Home Office Policy and other document updates, read below.


Rishi Sunak says Tory party has ‘come together’ over Rwanda bill and he challenges Labour to back it in Lords – The Guardian

Rishi Sunak has announced in a press conference that the Conservative party has now “come together” over the Rwanda bill.

It has passed the Commons unamended, he says, and it is now time for the Lords to pass it, he says. He further added:

There is now only one question. Will the opposition in the appointed House of Lords try and frustrate the will of the people as expressed by the elected House? Or will they get on board and do the right thing? It’s as simple as that.

For full report, click here.

 UK’s Rwanda bill is a ‘step towards totalitarianism’, says Lord Carlile – The Guardian

A leading barrister and crossbench peer, Alex Carlile, has condemned the government’s Rwanda bill as a “step towards totalitarianism” and signalled that the House of Lords plans to resist the legislation.

Rishi Sunak is preparing to give a press conference on Thursday morning on the government’s determination to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda, after the bill passed a third reading in the Commons last night.

For full report, click here.

UK asylum seekers: are you affected by damp and mould in your accommodation? – The Guardian.

The Government plans to exclude accommodation used to house asylum seekers from a crackdown on landlords managing social housing, the Guardian revealed this week.

Following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from prolonged exposure to black mould in his family’s home, the government said last year that it will force landlords to fix damp and mould problems in social housing.

The Guardian has reported that the accommodation housing asylum seekers who live in a mix of shared housing provided by landlords in the private rented sector and hotel accommodation, often with well-documented mould and damp issues will not be covered by the legislation. The law will only apply to landlords who are registered social housing providers and if the home in question is under a social housing lease.

For full report, click here.

 Middle East conflicts and the Rwanda bill – Politics Weekly UK, The Guardian.

As tensions in the Middle East continue to rise, this week John Harris speaks to Niku Jafarnia of Human Rights Watch about the regional conflicts. The Rwanda bill passed its third reading and Pippa Crerar, the Guardian’s political editor, reveals what happened behind the scenes. And the former No 10 adviser Gavin Barwell talks about the increasingly vicious struggles within the Conservative party.

To listen to the full podcast regarding this, click here.

Unions condemn plan to make civil servants ignore ECHR Rwanda rulings – The Guardian.

Unions have condemned a planned change to Whitehall rules meaning civil servants must ignore Strasbourg judgments halting Rwanda deportation flights.

Home Office staff removing asylum seekers will be told to implement last-minute injunctions from the European court of human rights (ECHR) only if ordered to do so by a minister, according to official guidance.

Three civil service unions say this will mean that senior civil servants and Border Force staff will have to choose between breaking international law, disobeying the instructions of a minister or resigning.

For full report, click here.

Scientists fear tough UK immigration rules will deter talent – Nature.

Cost increases and restrictions on visa-holders bringing family members will put off researchers, warn scientists.

“Salary-threshold increases, combined with the recent large increases in visa costs, create a real risk that the UK is seen as a less attractive place for the world’s brightest and best students and researchers,” says Daniel Rathbone, interim executive director of Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), a science-advocacy group in London.

For full report, click here.

Visa Ease – The Global Recruiter

The UK government will from 31 January 2024 ease current visitor visa legislation to allow remote working. According to global immigration law firm Fragomen, this regulation recognises changing working patterns and will open the door to ‘work-cations’.

UK legislation has not previously made any reference to remote working, however guidance notes that those visiting the UK can, sensibly, respond to work emails, participate in remote meetings and calls. Guidance to immigration officials has been to “check that the applicant’s main purpose for coming to the UK is to undertake a permitted activity, rather than specifically to work remotely from the UK.”

From 31 January 2024, updated legislation will specifically allow visitors to “undertake activities relating to their employment overseas remotely from within the UK, providing this is not the primary purpose of their visit.”

For full report, click here.

Report exposes critical links between refugee resettlement and rising rates of UK street homelessness – Scottish Housing News

Exploring the connection between poverty, education, health inequalities and housing, the report emphasises the role housing plays in shaping the destiny of those on the edge of society. It highlights that refugees bear a disproportionate burden, often facing multiple challenges and disadvantages when trying to find stable accommodation.

The report, which was written by academics at the University of Huddersfield, delves into statistics revealing a 223% surge in street homelessness for people leaving asylum between June and September 2023. This trend indicates a troubling link between the UK’s asylum system and the growing levels of homelessness.

The analysis brings attention to differences in how well different resettlement programmes work. Due to a lack of support during the move from temporary to permanent housing and a lack of appropriate and affordable accommodation, Afghan refugees faced prolonged stays in temporary ‘bridging accommodation’, while those in the Homes for Ukraine schemes faced a higher risk of homelessness after leaving host families.

For full report, click here.

Additional payments made to pregnant asylum seekers and children under 4 – The Asylum Support (Amendment) Regulations 2023

After two decades of stagnant rates, pregnant asylum seekers and young children seeking asylum in the UK will finally receive increased financial support. The Home Office recently announced that supplementary payments provided under Regulation 10A of the Asylum Support Regulations 2000 will now align with monetary values from the Department of Health and Social Care’s ‘Healthy Start’ program.

To access the updated Statutory Instrument, click here.


Medical Justice, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWHC 38 (Admin)

High Court judgment has deemed unlawful a Home Office policy regarding the detention of vulnerable immigrants. The policy allowed immigration officials to obtain a second medical opinion when a detained individual submitted an independent report detailing their vulnerability. The court found this Second Opinion Policy delayed consideration of evidence and risked further harm to already vulnerable detainees.

The ruling came in response to a legal challenge from the advocacy group Medical Justice. Their judicial review argued the policy contradicted government guidance on protecting at-risk adults. This statutory guidance directs officials to assess vulnerability based on available evidence about a detained individual. By justifying second opinions, Medical Justice claimed the policy undermined this established vulnerability assessment process.

In his judgment, Justice Linden agreed the policy unlawfully diverged from the statutory guidance. He cited recent UK Supreme Court decisions stipulating policies must align with relevant guidance. Therefore, by enabling officials to seek additional medical input, the Second Opinion Policy improperly obstructed appropriate evaluation of independent reports on detainees’ susceptibility to harm.

For full decision, click here.

SN and LN v Zamestnik-predsedatel na Darzhavna agentsia za bezhantsite (Directive 2011/95/EU) Case C-563/22, Opinion of AG Emiliou

The European Court of Justice recently issued an important ruling regarding Palestinian refugees seeking asylum in Europe. The court found that applicants can claim protection has ‘ceased’ from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) based on general living conditions in Gaza.

This judgment stipulates that Palestinians do not need to prove they are individually targeted or personally affected by circumstances in Gaza. The dangerous and unstable environment is enough to argue that UNRWA’s protection has ended, even if the agency still operates in the region.

For full decision, click here.



  • Ukraine Visa Schemes: visa data has been updated on 18th January 2024. To view the updated data, click here.
  • Guidance – Bangladesh: country policy and information notes has been updated on 17th January 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.
  • Guidance – UK: tuberculosis test clinics for Hong Kong BN(O) has been updated on 17th January 2024. To view the Guidance, click here.
  • Form – Apply for refugee family reunion from outside the UK: Appendix 4 (VAF4A) has been updated on 17th January 2024. To view the updated form, click here
  • Guidance: Register of licensed sponsors for workers has been updated on 17th January 2024. To view the updated Register, click here.
  • Guidance: Register of licensed sponsors for students has been updated on 17th January 2024. To view the updated Register, click here.
  • Caseworker Guidance: Windrush Compensation Scheme is updated on 16th January 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.
  • Caseworker Guidance: EU Settlement Scheme has been updated on 16th January 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.
  • Caseworker Guidance: Lapsing leave and returning residents has been updated on 16th January 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.
  • Form: Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by post has been updated on 16th January 2024. To view the updated Form, click here.
  • Guidance: Secure English language test (SELT) has been updated on 15th January 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.


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