Immigration News Weekly Roundup – 1 September 2023

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel to the UK continues to break records, with over 20,000 arrivals so far this year as per the updated report from this week. This influx has reignited debates around migrant rights and adequate accommodation. Recent developments raise critical legal issues that merit examination.

The controversial decision to house migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland remains legally questionable. A recent inspection found plumbing failures that will take months to fix, violating water supply regulations. Yet the Home Office plans to use the barge, risking asylum seekers’ safety in substandard conditions. This appears to contravene duties under the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act to provide adequate accommodation.

The situation may also breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment. A letter from asylum seekers on the barge described suicidal despair from the isolated, frightening conditions. The Home Secretary’s vow to override any Strasbourg intervention shows disregard for lawful protections.

Recent announcement by the Government to tag and track migrants’ NHS records also raises legality issues. Previously, data sharing was abandoned after concerns over privacy breaches and deterring healthcare access. Any new scheme must demonstrate necessity and proportionality, with robust safeguards against overreach. Else, it risks incompatibility with rights to privacy, non-discrimination, and health.

The recent WAS (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWCA Civ 894 (26 July 2023) case illustrates the complex balancing involved in asylum appeals. While inconsistencies weakened WAS’s credibility, the Court of Appeal held the Upper Tribunal failed to properly weigh his proven political ties. This underscores the importance of considering all evidence in context when assessing well-founded fear and real risk.

Overall, the updates this week lean towards the fact that the Government must ensure its policies pertaining to protection of asylum seekers at large adhere to domestic and international legal obligations around migrant welfare and rights. The need of the hour is sustainable solutions that require political policies to address the factors driving risky Channel crossings whilst also protecting the needs of the vulnerable.

On the compliance front, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published new guidance on standards for immigration and asylum law practices. This recognises these clients’ vulnerability and the severe consequences of poor legal services. The complex, changing nature of this field also requires lawyers to maintain up-to-date expertise. By outlining regulatory expectations and promoting rigorous professional standards, the SRA aims to ensure competent, ethical legal support for immigrants and asylum seekers. This upholds public confidence and protects access to justice for these often-marginalized groups.

One of the key components from the report’s findings is that all immigration advisors should be fully abreast with the latest Rules and regimes in place to ensure that their immigration clients are receiving a sound advice.

Mastering Immigration Law provides regular training and development required to demonstrate advisor competence across evolving immigration landscapes. Advisors can efficiently satisfy their CPD requirements through such comprehensive online learning while also bolstering their expertise on the latest immigration policies and best practices.

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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, visit our blog here



How many people cross the Channel in small boats and how many claim asylum in the UK? – BBC News

As of 29 August, 20,101 people had crossed the English Channel in 2023. That figure includes 3,824 in June, the highest number for any June on record. Small boat arrivals accounted for about 45% of asylum applications made in the UK in 2022. In total, 45,755 migrants crossed the Channel that year, the highest number since figures began to be collected in 2018.

For full report, click here


Plans to house migrants in a hotel owned by a convicted criminal have been suspended, the local Tory MP said – BBC News

The Harben House Hotel in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, was due to receive 270 asylum seekers. A BBC investigation revealed its owner, Siddharth Mahajan, 42 was convicted of offences linked to the operation of houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).

Ben Everitt, MP for Milton Keynes North, said the Home Office had moved all asylum seekers out of the hotel. He said: “I have been clear that a convicted criminal should not be running asylum seeker accommodation and there are currently no plans to move any more asylum seekers into the hotel while the contractual situation is reviewed.”

For full report, click here


Care4Calais: Watchdog criticises past management of charity – BBC News

The former trustees of a charity set up to aid migrants in Calais have been criticised over their management.

In a report, the Charity Commission criticised the financial, leadership and complaints processes at Care4Calais in the past.

Clare Moseley, founder and former chief executive, quit during the three-year inquiry. The charity’s new board said its growth had “vastly outpaced” needed structural reforms.

For full report, click here


Bibby Stockholm: Ministers accused of playing Russian roulette with asylum seekers’ lives – The Guardian

Ministers have been accused of playing Russian roulette with asylum seekers’ lives after it emerged that hundreds could be moved on to the Bibby Stockholm barge despite an inspection finding failings that could take months to repair.

Urgent work is being carried out following an inspection of the plumbing on the barge, which is moored in Portland, Dorset, the Guardian has learned.

The Home Office contractor CTM has been given an eight-week deadline by Essex Water to complete all repairs to ensure the barge, which is intended to house up to 500 people, complies with the legal requirements of Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.

For full report, click here


Home Office interest in migrant records dates back to Theresa May –  Analysis by Ben Quinn , Political correspondent, The Guardian

As much as the Home Office has always insisted that safeguards are in place, its interest in the records of migrants using the NHS has long been highly controversial.

True to form, government spokespeople say “There’s nothing to see here” when asked about the move – made with no fanfare – to order the NHS to input a Home Office reference number into the records of “relevant patients”.

For full report, click here


Migrants to get Home Office reference number on NHS England records – The Guardian

NHS records of migrants are to have a Home Office reference number attached to them, prompting concerns about potential tracking, privacy rights and the expansion of the “hostile environment”.

A previous scheme using NHS data to track down patients believed to be breaching immigration rules was abandoned after a legal challenge from health and civil liberties organisations warning of a breach of patient confidentiality, discrimination against non-British patients and a risk of deterring people from seeking medical help.

For full report, click here


Suella Braverman says ‘we will do whatever it takes’ if Strasbourg thwarts Rwanda plan – The Guardian

Suella Braverman has said the government will “do whatever it takes” if its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is “thwarted in Strasbourg”, and confirmed the government is considering fitting some migrants with electronic tags.

In an interview with the BBC, the home secretary stepped up her attack on the European court of human rights (ECHR), calling it politicised and interventionist.

For full report, click here


Has hate stirring against refugees reached a peak in Welsh town? – Letters, The Guardian

Readers respond to Aditya Chakrabortty’s account of his trip to Llanelli, where protesters are furiously objecting to Home Office plans to house asylum seekers in the Stradey Park hotel.

For full report, click here


Trade deal with India could be a double-edged sword for Sunak – Analysis by Toby Helm and Amrit Dhillon, The Guardian

With a general election not far away and the economy still struggling, Rishi Sunak is on the hunt for good news.

Sunak’s business and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, has been in India over the past few days, laying the ground for a string of announcements with her G20 counterparts. Inevitably, much of the talk in UK and Indian diplomatic, business and trade circles has been about the possibility of a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and India. The two governments had hoped to conclude one last autumn but negotiations have dragged on.

For full report, click here


Asylum seekers say Bibby Stockholm conditions caused suicide attempt – The Guardian

Thirty-nine asylum seekers who were briefly accommodated on the Home Office’s controversial Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset have said conditions onboard were so bad that one was driven to attempt suicide.

A three-page letter sent to the home secretary, Suella Braverman, also sets out the asylum seekers’ fear and despair at being trapped on the barge and appeals to her to help them in their search for safety and freedom in the UK.

They describe the barge as “an unsafe, frightening and isolated place” but said that as law-abiding people they were fearful of not obeying Home Office instructions. The asylum seekers described the barge as “a place of exile” and said the conditions were “small rooms and a terrifying residence”.

For full report, click here


Record asylum backlog deals another blow to Sunak’s immigration pledges – Analysis by Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian

In a landmark speech on immigration last December, Rishi Sunak made a series of bold and apparently undeliverable commitments. He promised to stop the flow of small boats to the UK, increase the amount of non-hotel accommodation for asylum seekers and abolish the backlog of unprocessed asylum cases by the end of 2023.

The government’s spiralling difficulties in addressing the first and second pledges have been evident throughout the summer, with footage of new boat arrivals broadcast nightly, and complications with the opening of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge mounting up. The failure to address the asylum backlog was starkly exposed in Thursday’s release of the quarterly immigration statistics.

For full report, click here



HOT TOPIC: IMMIGRATION SERVICES, Report by Solicitors Regulation Authority

Immigration and asylum legal services serve some of society’s most vulnerable. Substandard legal work can have especially severe, long-lasting consequences that are hard to fix for these users. Practitioners in this complex, ever-changing field must stay current, and the public needs assurance of high professional standards.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has now published updated guidance outlining their expectations for law firms practicing immigration law. This aims to ensure competent, ethical services for immigrants and asylum seekers through heightened practice standards and regulatory oversight. With clients’ lives potentially transformed by immigration case outcomes, it is critical that these law firms provide quality legal support while adhering to all professional regulations and responsibilities. This new SRA guidance strives to uphold public confidence and protect vulnerable user groups seeking immigration assistance.

To read the full report, click here


Evaluation Of The Refugee And Migrant Advice Service’s Alternative To Detention Pilot – UNCHR

A recent evaluation of a UK pilot program providing alternatives to immigrant detention found it successfully supported migrants in the community. The program, launched in 2019 by the Home Office and UNHCR, allowed migrants without legal status to access caseworkers and legal professionals while their immigration cases were resolved. Compared to other EU countries, the UK has a large immigration detention system, which the government has indicated it intends to expand. The pilot aimed to test community-based approaches to case resolution as an alternative.

To download the full report, click here.  To download the summary, click here


THE ASYLUM IN-TRAY IN 2025, report by Marley Morris, Institute for Public Policy and Research, August 2023.

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research predicts the current crisis in the UK’s asylum system will worsen by the next election in 2025. The report forecasts that due to policies like the 2023 Illegal Migration Act, the new government will face a permanent backlog of thousands of asylum seekers unable to resolve their cases. This will continue the trend of asylum seekers living in limbo without status. The report provides a sobering outlook on the future of UK asylum policy following the upcoming election.

To download the report, click here


Updates to Health and Care Worker visa – UKVI

A key change to the rules for Health and Care Worker visas took effect on 27th August 2023. Previously, these visa holders could work unlimited supplementary hours for other sponsors. However, from this cut-off date, Skilled Workers holding Health and Care Worker visas are now restricted to working no more than 20 hours per week for any additional employers. Going forward, these visa holders who want to exceed the 20-hour cap will need to apply for an updated visa in order to comply with the new regulations. This rule change limits the working hours flexibility that was previously available to Health and Care Workers in the UK on this particular visa route.

For more information, read here



WAS (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWCA Civ 894 (26 July 2023)

In a complex asylum case, Justice Laing recently overturned the Upper Tribunal’s dismissal of “WAS'” claim. She found the Tribunal failed to properly weigh key factors like WAS’ ties to Altaf Hussain, controversial founder of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and the danger this posed given Pakistani authorities’ crackdown. The decision came despite inconsistencies hurting WAS’ credibility.

WAS initially came to the UK as a student in 2012. After being denied further leave in 2016, he claimed asylum in 2017, citing risks from his political opinions as an active MQM member from 2009-2012. The First-tier Tribunal dismissed his appeal but acknowledged his MQM participation and his father’s MQM support. Crucially, WAS didn’t claim asylum for 5 years, despite no change in his politics.

Justice Laing ruled the Upper Tribunal erred by contradicting the First-tier Tribunal’s preserved findings and its own conclusions. Her nuanced decision underscores the complexities of asylum cases involving alleged ties to controversial political movements abroad.

To read the full decision, click here



  • Guidance: Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) has been updated on 30th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Safeguarding and consent issues: caseworker guidance has been updated on 30th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Afghan Resettlement Programme: operational data has been updated on 30th August 2023. To download the latest data, click here


  • Modern slavery: how to identify and report perpetrators has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Collection UK government support for Chagossians has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Collection, click here


  • Guidance Global Talent eligible prize lists has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Guidance Questionnaire: continue your asylum claim has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Guidance Border Force privacy information notice has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Guidance British citizens of Chagossian descent: pre-departure information pack has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Guidance British citizens of Chagossian descent arriving in the UK: information pack has been updated on 29th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Asylum accommodation factsheets has been updated on 25th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Guidance UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals has been updated on 24th August 2023. To view the updated Guidance, click here


  • Policy paper Counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) 2023 has been published on 24th August 2023. To download the Paper, click here


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