Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 5 January 2024


Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 5 January 2024

As we embark on a new year, immigration policy continues to evolve.  Staying current is essential, and to assist, we bring you the latest and most significant updates that have taken place since the festive holidays until now.

The Government commenced 2024 by introducing new restrictions to student visa routes. As of 1st January 2024, international students on most courses may no longer bring dependents, with an estimated 140,000 fewer people able to enter the UK annually.

While the Home Office proudly announced hitting targets to clear the legacy asylum backlog, with over 112,000 cases processed in 2023 and small boat arrivals down 36%, media sources report thousands of pre-June 2022 applications remain undecided, contradicting Rishi Sunak’s pledge.

As the anticipation of elections loom, media sources have reported that Labour will reconsider asylum policies if elected. Their suggestion of possibly processing some claims abroad sparked controversy. Conservatives criticized this proposal, yet Labour maintains they will evaluate any effective approach. The discourse reflects migration’s divisive nature.

We report two interesting case law decisions in relation to unlawful detentions this week.  

In Oluponle v Home Office [2023] EWHC 3188 (KB) the Home Office was ordered by the Court to award the Claimant £20,000 for 60 days of false imprisonment in this case.

In R (ER) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 3187 (Admin), the High Court issued an interim relief decision sharply criticizing the Home Office’s failures in a case challenging the detention of a potential trafficking victim with mental health issues and criminal convictions.

These cases set a credible precedence on detention and deportation areas.  However, on deportations, it is important to be reminded that the Government maintains Rwanda is safe.   As such, in the months ahead, Rwanda deportation flights remain a risk for vulnerable migrants. Careful management of such deportation cases will be critical.

Join our director, David Jones’ live online course:  Certification, Inadmissibility and The Rwanda Regime on Thursday, 25th January 2024 via Zoom.  The course will cover critical topics and provide vital insights you need for resisting complex deport orders. More info or to book, click here

Also on the horizon, planned spousal income threshold increases will now phase in gradually. The £29,000 figure starts this spring, but the hike to £38,700 will wait until 2025, providing some temporary relief in meeting harder future requirements.

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

Amidst this shifting landscape, immigration advisors need reliable resources to master complex, evolving regulations. Expert Mark Symes’ essential guide decodes nuances across all areas, empowering advisors to stay current. By demystifying even obscure policy details, this vital reference equips advisors to provide up-to-date counsel despite transforming requirements. The latest edition contains the most current Rules and guidance.

Leveraging such an invaluable resource helps advisors confidently navigate these dynamic times.

Curious? Why not sign-up for 21 Day trial period here For full access at reduced cost here

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

Lastly, as we enter 2024, HJT Training extends their warmest wishes to all the immigration lawyers and advisors in this field. The past year brought unprecedented challenges, but also showcased your dedication and excellence supporting clients. As policies and regulations continue evolving rapidly, your expertise navigating complex requirements and your passion and commitment to helping clients is inspiring.

We hope 2024 brings you success, growth, and positive impact empowering individuals and families through your immigration counsel.  The road ahead remains demanding, but your efforts make a difference. Wishing everyone the very best for 2024 ahead!

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, see below



Tough government action on student visas comes into effect – UKVI

Restrictions to student visa routes came into effect yesterday, as the government continues to slash migration and curb abuse of the immigration system.

International students starting courses this month will no longer be able to bring family members on all but postgraduate research courses and courses with government-funded scholarships. The changes, first announced last May, have also seen people banned from using the student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK and will see an estimated 140,000 fewer people come to the UK.

For full report, click here

Legacy backlog cleared as plan to stop the boats delivers – UKVI

The legacy asylum backlog target has been met with more than 112,000 asylum cases cleared in 2023 and small boat crossing arrivals down by 36%.

The Prime Minister’s commitment of clearing the legacy asylum backlog has been delivered, with 112,000 asylum cases being processed in the past year.

Ending the legacy asylum backlog, a pivotal step in the government’s pledge to stop the boats, comes as end-of-year statistics show small boat crossings were down by 36% in 2023. In recent months, crossings have fallen even more sharply – by 45% in the second half of the year and 64% in the final quarter of 2023, against equivalent periods in 2022. This is despite sea crossings into Europe surging by 80% in 2023.

For full report, click here

Government exceeds target as over 2,100 more county lines closed – UKVI

More than 2,000 county lines have been dismantled in the last 18 months, as the government hits its target of closing thousands of these criminal networks early.

Data published this month shows the ambitious three-year target, made in the government’s 10-year drug strategy, has been achieved in just a year and a half, with dedicated police taskforces from the County Lines Programme arresting senior line holders and breaking the gangs that terrorise communities. 

Between April and September 2022, over 4,000 arrests have been made, whilst 4,800 vulnerable people caught up in these vile operations have been offered support to turn their lives around.

Between April and September 2023, over 700 lines were dismantled, 1,300 arrests made and 1,600 victims were supported.

These results demonstrate the relentless targeting of county lines by the police, who are persistently closing them down as they appear.

Thousands of ‘legacy’ asylum cases awaiting decisions despite Sunak’s pledge – The Guardian

The Home Office is yet to make decisions on thousands of asylum applications from before June 2022 despite Rishi Sunak’s promise to clear the legacy backlog.

Caseworkers have been offered financial incentives to help hit the Prime Minister’s target of processing 92,000 cases from before June 2022. But in a statement released on Monday, the department said 4,500 complex cases from the backlog were still subject to further investigation.

Officials say that 86,800 decisions have been made after the government stepped up processing and deployed an additional 1,200 caseworkers.

For full report, click here

Small boat arrivals in UK likely to rise in 2024, says Border Force officials’ union – The Guardian

The number of people arriving in Britain in small boats is expected to rise again this year after a lull caused by bad weather, according to the union representing Border Force officials.

Migrant arrivals across the Channel have fallen year on year for the first time since current records began, government figures show. But Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union warned the latest slowdown was probably a “glitch” due to extremely poor weather in recent months.

For full report, click here

Family of man found dead on Bibby Stockholm turn to crowdfunding to repatriate his body

The family of a man believed to have killed himself on the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, say they have had to turn to crowdfunding to bring him back to Albania for burial.

Leonard Farruku, 27, was found unresponsive onboard the vessel commissioned by the Home Office to accommodate up to 500 asylum seekers at Portland Port, Dorset, on 12 December.

His sister, Jola Dushku, said: “It was a tragedy we lost a brother in such circumstances, but we are now facing a double tragedy with not being able to have his body back home to have the funeral ceremony.”

For full report, click here

Labour considers processing asylum seekers overseas – BBC News

The Labour party is considering processing some asylum claims overseas if it forms the next government.

Sir Keir Starmer has been looking over new plans for Labour’s asylum policy, a spokesman told the BBC. Asked last week if his party would consider processing asylum claims outside of the UK, Sir Keir said he would look at any plan that works.

The Conservatives accused Labour of having no credible plan to stop migrants coming to the UK in boats.

The Labour party is exploring whether some asylum seekers could have their claims processed before reaching the UK, to discourage some of them from making the journey across the Channel.

For full report, click here

New £38,700 visa rule will be introduced in early 2025, says Rishi Sunak

Plans requiring people to earn £38,700 a year before bringing family to the UK will be introduced in early 2025, Rishi Sunak has said.

The rise from the current £18,600 level was announced earlier this month and had been scheduled for the spring.

However, the government has rowed back and now says the increase will come in two stages. In Spring 2024 , the threshold will rise to £29,000, with the further increase not applying until the following year.

Speaking in Lincoln, Mr Sunak defended the timetable, saying: “The principle here is absolutely right that if people are bringing dependants into this country as part of their family, they must be able to support them.

For full report, click here


Oluponle v Home Office [2023] EWHC 3188 (KB)

The Home Office was ordered by the Court to award the Claimant £20,000 for 60 days of false imprisonment in this case.

On May 4, 2016, the claimant was detained during a routine reporting event, with plans to remove him on May 24. However, he filed an asylum claim that day, so removal was deferred.

The Home Office decided to continue detaining him, expecting his asylum claim could be processed and he could be removed within 3 months. The court agreed this was a reasonable assessment initially. However, the court found the Home Office should have made an asylum decision by August 22, 2016. Had they done so, a detention review on August 23 should have expedited his subsequent appeal, taking about a week until August 30. After that, it should have taken 3 days to release the claimant, making his detention unlawful starting September 3, 2016.

For full decision, click here

Kolicaj (Deprivation: procedure and discretion) Albania [2023] UKUT 294 (IAC)

The Upper Tribunal has ruled that the Home Secretary can lawfully deprive a person of their British citizenship without notice. This occurred because there was concern the individual’s second nationality would be renounced, which would make deprivation unlawful by causing statelessness.

The ruling states the Home Secretary can dispense with notification if there is risk of the individual frustrating the process. Additionally, notice can be skipped if there is clear risk of the person renouncing their other citizenship, causing statelessness and preventing deprivation under the 1981 British Nationality Act.

Deprivation must consider all circumstances, so even if the condition precedent is met, the Home Secretary must still properly exercise discretion, or the decision could be unlawful.

For full decision, click here

R (ER) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 3187 (Admin)

 The Claimant was served a deportation order in June 2022 despite representations against it. After completing his prison sentence in April 2023, he was detained by immigration authorities. Although referred as a potential trafficking victim in May 2023 and granted reasonable grounds in August, his bail granted in principle in August required accommodations was not secured until November, when the Home Office stated Probation Service may offer housing.

The judge ruled this did not affect the bail grant in principle and a suitable address must be found for Probation Service to approve.

The High Court issued an interim relief decision sharply criticizing the Home Office’s failures in a case challenging the detention of a potential trafficking victim with mental health issues and criminal convictions. The judge identified five concerning features, including difficulty arranging legal visits, lack of response to pre-action letters, and failure to substantiate that detention was lawful. Additionally, the Home Office incorrectly argued a fresh Schedule 10 application should have been made when prior refusals were not disclosed. Overall, the judge described a compelling case of unlawful action by the Home Office.

The judge ordered suitable accommodation be found within a week and the detainee released within three days. In making the mandatory order, the judge stated the history provided no reason to believe a lawful decision would occur absent a court order. The judge described Home Office actions as wholly unacceptable and requiring prompt response, not indifference.

For full decision, click here


Constantly on edge’: The expansion of GPS tagging and the rollout of non-fitted

Devices Annual review of GPS tagging in the immigration system, report by Dr Jo Hynes & Mia Leslie December 2023

The Public Law Project’s latest annual report on the Home Office’s use of GPS electronic monitoring for immigration bail showed a 56% increase, with 4,136 people GPS tagged by September 2023 compared to 2,652 in September 2022. The report focuses on the Home Office’s new use of non-fitted GPS fingerprint scanners requiring periodic biometric verification in place of standard fitted ankle tags.

 To download the full report, click here


  • Transparency data: Migrants detected crossing the English Channel in small boats has been updated on 3rd January 2024. To view the latest data, click here


  • Collection: Illegal Migration Act 2023 has been updated on 2nd January 2024. To view the updated collection, click here


  • Collection: Migration statistics has been updated on 2nd January 2024. To view the updated collection, click here



  • Collection: Windrush applicant information has been updated on 29th December 2023. To view the updated Collection, click here


  • Guidance: Windrush Compensation Scheme – State Pension solution has been updated on 29th December 2023.  To view the updated Collection, click here


  • Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list has been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated list, click here


  • Immigration Rules Appendix Returning Resident has been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated list, click here


  • Immigration Rules part 9: grounds for refusal has been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated list, click here


  • Immigration Rules part 7: other categories have been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated list, click here


  • Immigration Rules part 1: leave to enter or stay in the UK have been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated Rules, click here


  • Guidance: Visiting the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen has been updated on 28th December 2024. To view the updated information, click here


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