Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 23 February 2024

 Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 23 February 2024

The firing of the Chief Inspector of the Border Force and abrupt policy shifts on Ukrainian visas have dominated UK immigration news headlines this week.

The Home Office has terminated its independent Chief Inspector overseeing borders and immigration, David Neal, after he publicly criticized alleged Border Force security lapses. A spokesperson for the Home Office stated Neal was dismissed for breaching his terms of appointment and losing the Home Secretary’s confidence. The firing comes on the heels of Neal’s warnings that the Border Force was failing to conduct required security checks on hundreds of private jets landing at London City Airport.
The Chief Inspector argued these poses dangers by enabling smugglers to bring in contraband, unauthorized entrants, and organized crime figures. The Home Office is now undertaking a recruitment process to find Neal’s replacement as Chief Inspector. The move underscores tensions between the oversight role of the Chief Inspector and Home Office desires to control public narratives regarding immigration enforcement.

The UK government has made several changes to the immigration rules for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the country. Most notably, the Ukraine Family Scheme allowing Ukrainians in the UK to bring family members here has abruptly ended. The government stated this immediate closure aimed to prevent a surge in applications before new restrictions took effect. While only around 100 visas per week were being issued under the program, its termination removes an important route for Ukrainians with UK connections to find safety. 

Another major change is that Leave under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, where UK residents sponsor displaced Ukrainians, will be reduced from 3 years to 18 months beginning in March. After that period, Ukrainians will need to apply for an extension through a new Ukraine Permission Extension scheme. Sponsor eligibility will also tighten to exclude most non-citizens and non-permanent residents. Meanwhile, grounds for refusal have expanded to include previous immigration violations and failure to provide required information.

Children born in the UK to parents with Ukraine Scheme permission can now apply for leave aligned with their parents after May 2024. But overall, the statement indicates a shift towards restricting and eventually ending special immigration concessions for Ukrainians. With the Ukraine Extension Scheme also closing next May, displacement caused by the conflict will likely face stricter UK asylum policies going forward.

Additionally, new restrictions on care worker immigration sponsorships and dependent visas have come in implementation. Sponsors must now be registered with the Care Quality Commission and conducting regulated activity to bring in care workers from abroad.

Skilled workers applying under occupational codes covering care roles will no longer be able to sponsor dependent partners or children, with exceptions for those already granted entry or permission before March 11, 2024 and holding continuous skilled worker permission since then.

These changes further limit legal immigration channels for care workers and their families, continuing recent UK policy shifts to tighten avenues for entry.

Despite much negative news regarding UK immigration, there is a glimmer of optimism in the latest data on student visas. The number of overseas students applying for undergraduate programs at UK universities has increased for the second consecutive year, reaching 115,730 for the upcoming fall semester.

This growth comes despite tighter government immigration rules aimed at curbing overall migration. In the past year ending September 2023, the UK granted 486,107 study visas, primarily to Indian and Chinese nationals. Postgraduate students have also been allowed to bring dependants like spouses and children under 18, with 152,980 dependant visas issued in that period.

This is despite the policy change taking effective since January 2024 that removes the right for most postgraduates to bring dependants, only allowing it for designated research degree programs.  Those completing degrees can still obtain graduate visas to work in the UK for 2-3 years. The continued expansion of international student visa issuance contrasts with broader efforts to restrict immigration channels.

Furthermore, the UKVI’s register of business sponsors has been updated indicating there is a rise to the UK businesses acquiring Sponsor Licence to hire and retain overseas workers.

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Staying current on policy changes is crucial in this field. Our upcoming courses provide a valuable opportunity to discuss the reforms and ensure everyone is ready to guide clients through new requirements. For full list of our upcoming courses, visit here.

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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


Government extends stay for Ukrainians in the UK – UKVI

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. 

The 18-month extension delivers on the government’s long-term commitment to Ukraine and comes as the world approaches 2 years since Russia’s reprehensible full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the launch of our Ukraine schemes, the UK has offered or extended sanctuary to more than 283,000 Ukrainians, in part thanks to the immense generosity of the British public.

For full report, click here

People smuggler jailed for cramming migrants in van compartment – UKVI

Shocking videos show the tiny, inhumane space where 6 Vietnamese and one Syrian were squeezed inside the Citroen van.

Romanian Valeriu Lordatii was sentenced to 3 years for facilitation and illegal entry into the UK.  On 16 December 2023 Lordatii attempted to enter the UK using the car ferry from the Hook of Holland to Essex. 

Border Force officers at the car hall at Harwich International Port searched the van driven by Lordatii and discovered the horrendously overcrowded sleeping compartment.  Lordatii claimed he had no idea the compartment was crammed full of people, despite its location being directly above his head.

For full report, click here

Home Secretary sacks borders watchdog via Zoom after clash – The Guardian

David Neal, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, was told that James Cleverly was terminating his job with immediate effect.

Neal, who had been in the role for nearly three years and was due to step down next month, had recently expressed his concern that there would be no one in the watchdog role for several months as ministers tried to force through Sunak’s controversial Rwanda policy.

Downing Street blocked his reappointment, an unusual move for the post in which his predecessors all served two full three-year terms in the post.

For full report, click here.

‘Hundreds of high-risk flights’ land in the UK unchecked: Borders watchdog issues dramatic warning amid a major new immigration scandal – Daily Mail

‘High-risk’ aircraft are landing in Britain without security checks in a major new immigration scandal, the Mail can reveal today.

The borders watchdog warned of ‘dangerous’ failings at a prominent London airport which potentially allowed thousands of passengers to evade passport controls. Home Office data provided to Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, David Neal, showed the UK Border Force failed to check the occupants of hundreds of private jets arriving at just one airport last year.

For full report, click here.

People helping asylum seekers in Europe face rising violence – The Guardian

People and groups who assist asylum seekers are reporting a disturbing trend of escalating intimidation, with aid workers facing direct threats including being held at gunpoint and having their phone communications monitored by government authorities, according to a report from the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights.

Dunja Mijatović has warned of increasing harassment and in some cases criminalisation of people and groups who assist refugees, especially in Hungary, Greece, Lithuania, Italy, Croatia and Poland.

“Organisations and people assisting refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants have been subjected to beatings, had their vehicles or equipment destroyed, or have been targeted by vandalism of their property, and even by arson or bomb attacks,” she wrote.

For full report, click here

Closure of UK family scheme for Ukrainians described as ‘cruel’ move – The Guardian

A scheme allowing Ukrainians to join family members taking sanctuary in the UK has been unexpectedly closed, in what opposition politicians described as a cruel and “below the radar” move days before the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full invasion.

The Ukraine family scheme is being shut but government officials said a separate Homes for Ukraine scheme would continue to fulfil people’s needs as a way of “simplifying” the process.

For full report, click here

Students’ futures still blighted by English test scandal – The Guardian

When affected students first approached Migrant Voice to help them fight to clear their names, the sheer scale and complexity of the cases was startling. We were talking about tens of thousands of students stripped of their right to study overnight, thousands deported, and many criminalised and detained, all because of IT errors and a failure of corporate responsibility.

As the Labour MP Stephen Timms says (‘97% seemed absurd’: Labour’s Stephen Timms on the English test scandal that wrecked lives, 13 February), the idea that 97% of all students taking these tests were cheating was absurd. It could not possibly be the case, yet this is what the Home Office was claiming.

For full article, click here

We must help GP trainees from overseas stay in the NHS- Letters to The Guardian

We have a chronic shortage of GPs. With demand for our services growing and our workforce shrinking, we are more reliant on doctors from overseas, who make up 46% of our GP trainees, than ever (Record one in five NHS staff in England are non-UK nationals, figures show, 12 February).

The UK needs to train more doctors, but we must also ensure that our colleagues who come to the UK to train and work in our health service are supported, valued and encouraged to stay so that our patients receive the care they need and deserve.

For full article, click here

Woman told to leave UK despite court ruling she has right to live with family – The Guardian

 A woman is facing deportation and being separated from her husband and 10-year-old son, despite a court ruling that the family have the right to live together in the UK.

The Home Office has told Malwattege Peiris to leave the UK despite the court ruling in her favour and correspondence from the Home Office confirming this decision. Campaigners have described the Home Office decision to ignore a court ruling as “shameful”.  For full report, click here

Home Office warned of violence and arson risks at Essex airbase holding asylum seekers – The Guardian

Ministers have received an official warning that the UK’s largest accommodation site for asylum seekers is at immediate risk of descending into criminality, arson and assaults on staff, letters released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

The immigration watchdog, David Neal, has written to the home office ministers James Cleverly and Tom Pursglove saying “hopelessness caused by boredom” among hundreds of young men at the Wethersfield airbase will “inevitably” lead to harm.

For full report, click here

Overseas student applications to UK universities rise again – BBC News

The number of international students applying to undergraduate courses at UK universities has risen for a second year running.

New data shows 115,730 students from outside the UK applied to start in September, up from 114,910 last year.

It comes despite tougher government rules to help “slash migration”. And it follows accusations universities have lowered standards to recruit overseas students, who can be charged far more than UK students.

For full report, click here


R (IAB and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities [2024] EWCA Civ 66.

This recent Court of Appeal decision upheld a previous High Court ruling that the government’s routine concealment of junior civil servants’ names in judicial review disclosures was unlawful. The case, brought by asylum seeker advocacy groups against the Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, challenged the removal of certain housing protections for asylum seekers. The government conceded the substantive issue just before the main hearing.

The Court of Appeal emphasized that junior officials make up about 98% of the roughly 500,000 civil servants. Redacting their names would make disclosed documents much harder to understand. Citing relevant precedents, the court reiterated the extremely high duty of candour on public bodies and rejected the government’s argument for routine redactions of names or irrelevant details. The High Court had already provided guidance on seeking redactions properly. It remains to be seen if the government will now follow that process instead of requesting lawyers provide undertakings not to disclose unredacted materials to clients. The government may appeal to the Supreme Court or pursue legislation, as the Court of Appeal suggested.

For full decision, click here


The effect of immigration policy reform on mental health in people from minoritised ethnic groups in England: an interrupted time series analysis of longitudinal data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study cohort – The Lancet Psychiatry

A new study published last week in The Lancet Psychiatry explores the connection between the UK government’s hostile environment immigration policies and declines in mental health in the Black Caribbean community. The research specifically hypothesized that Black Caribbeans would suffer worse mental health compared to White Britons following the 2014 Immigration Act and the 2017 Windrush scandal media coverage.

The study found increased psychological distress among Black Caribbeans after 2014, which it linked to the Immigration Act and Windrush scandal. No similar effects were seen for other ethnic groups. The hostile environment policies and Windrush scandal particularly targeted Black Caribbeans, so the study concludes these policies and events negatively impacted their mental health.

For full report, click here

The Windrush Compensation Scheme A Comparative Analysis, The Dickson Poon School of Law – Kings College London

A new report from King’s College London’s King’s Legal Clinic critiques significant structural deficiencies in the UK government’s compensation program for Windrush scandal victims.

The report compared the Windrush Compensation Scheme to three other contemporary schemes providing redress for British state harms – the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme, Horizon Shortfall Scheme, and Infected Blood Compensation Scheme. It identified many weaknesses in the Windrush program including complex eligibility rules, high evidence standards, an adversarial approach, no legal aid, and limited independent redress. This contrasts with the comparative compensation schemes. The report concludes the Windrush program has failed to adequately compensate victims due to these structural flaws.

For full report, click here


Statutory guidance – Modern slavery: how to identify and support victims has been updated on 22nd February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click  here

Guidance Register of licensed sponsors – workers has been updated on 21st February 2024. To view the updated Register, click here

Form: Voluntary Returns Service -awareness materials has been updated on 21st February 2024.  To view the updated Form, click  here

Transparency data: Migrants detected crossing the English Channel in small boats has been updated on 21st February 2024. To view the latest data, click  here

Guidance: Immigration Rules archive -28 December 2023 to 15 January 2024 has been published on 20th February 2024. To view the Guidance, click  here

Guidance for businesses offering work to people coming from Ukraine has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click  here

Impact assessments covering migration policy has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated report, click  here

Immigration Rules Appendix Ukraine Scheme has been updated on 19th February 2024.  To view the updated Appendix, click    here

Immigration Rules archive has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated archive, click  here

Immigration Rules part 9: grounds for refusal has been updated on 19th February 2024.  To view the updated Rules, click here.

Immigration Rules: introduction has been published on 19th February 2024.  To view the updated introduction, click here

Guidance: Apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Guidance Ukrainian nationals in the UK: visa support has been updated on 19th February 2024.  To view the updated Guidance, click here

Caseworker Guidance Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme have been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Caseworker Guidance: Ukraine Scheme has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Guidance: Apply for a visa under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Guidance: UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Guidance: Apply to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Extension Scheme has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here

Caseworker Guidance: Ukraine Extension Scheme has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here.

Policy paper Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 556, 19 February 2024 has been published on 24th February 2024. To view the updated Policy, click here

Guidance: Move to the UK if you’re coming from Ukraine has been updated on 19th February 2024. To view the updated Guidance, click here




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