Asylum Aid campaign - close the protection gap for women

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Please join Asylum Aid in their campaign to close the protection gap for women seeking asylum. See their campaign leaflet below or, for further information, visit the website, here.

‘Now is your chance to help close the protection gap for women seeking asylum.

Take action in the new campaign under the Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum which starts today!

In the past few months new initiatives have come into play for women facing rape and violence at home and abroad. But women seeking asylum are falling through a protection gap.

William Hague and Angelina Jolie signed off an international agreement on how a woman raped during a civil war should be supported. But if that woman comes to the UK to seek protection she isn’t guaranteed the same support. There is a glaring hypocrisy in how we treat women and girls who seek protection in the UK; they continue to be missed out of government policies on violence against women.

We believe that no woman seeking asylum should have to tell her story:
* in front of her children
* to a male interviewer or interpreter if she is not comfortable with this
* to someone who doesn’t understand how trauma affects memory
* without being given counselling
* without information about her rights as a woman in the asylum system

We believe that five particular measures in Hague and Jolies’s international agreement are also vitally important for women seeking asylum in the UK.

Let’s tell Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to use her powers to put these measures in place in the asylum system now:

Ø Provide childcare during screening and asylum interview
Ø Guarantee that women can have a female interviewer and interpreter if they choose
Ø Training for interviewers and interpreters on sexual violence, trauma and memory
Ø Counselling and support for trauma for women who have experienced gender-based harm
Ø Information about the asylum process, rights and entitlements specific to women seeking asylum

Take action now to close the Protection Gap for women seeking asylum:

* Send a Protection postcard to your MP

* retweet us @asylumaid

* write your own tweets using hashtag #ProtectionGap (we’ve attached a tweet sheet)

* put the attached information onto your website

* use the attached images

For more information do go to
www.asylumaid.org.uk/protectiongap or contact Debora Singer MBE on 020 7354 9631 extension 208.’

Tier 1 Investors - Changes

The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 693, found here, made changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) Rules. The following changes took effect from 06 November 2014.

The current £1 million minimum investment threshold has been raised to £2 million.

The full investment sum must be invested in prescribed forms of investments (share or loan capital in active and trading UK companies, or UK Government bonds), rather than 75% of the sum.

The requirement that the migrant’s investment must be “topped up” if its market value falls is being removed; instead Tier 1 (Investor) Migrants will only need to purchase new qualifying investments if they sell part of their portfolios and need to replace them in order to maintain the investment threshold.

The provision under which the required investment sum can be sourced as a loan was removed.

Transitional arrangements are being applied, so that Tier 1 (Investor) Migrants who have already entered the route before these changes were introduced will not be subject to these changes when they apply for extensions or for indefinite leave to remain.

Entry Clearance Officers and UK Visas & Immigration caseworkers are being empowered to refuse a Tier 1 (Investor) application if they have reasonable grounds to believe that:

- the applicant is not in control of the investment funds;
- the funds were obtained unlawfully (or by means which would be unlawful if they happened in the UK); or
- the character, conduct or associations of a party providing the funds mean that approving the application is not conducive to the public good.

Constant changes to other categories of visas, often to the detriment of the migrant, has made the Tier 1 Investor route more attractive to those with the required resources. This results in an increase of investor applicants and a corresponding increase in the scrutiny of these applications by the Home Office. Expert advice in this area is becoming more important, please contact us for more information.

Waiving Home Office application fees

The SSHD’s approach to waiving human rights application fees was limited to those who were literally destitute. This presented an obstacle to people who were overstayers, with limited financial support from family or friends, to applying for leave to remain in the UK based on their Human Rights because they were not considered destitute.

Those who were not destitute but did not have sufficient financial resources, had to find some way to pay the relevant fees, which often meant getting themselves into debt. A case called R (Carter) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, found here, disagreed with this approach.

The court decided that if the entitlement to getting a fee waiver is seen by the SSHD as being limited to people who are actually destitute, that’s unlawful. If the SSHD decides not to waive the fee, then this should be challenged.

The SSHD issued the following news article today:

‘Fee waiver applications for FLR(O) and FLR (FP): information for applicants
Updated 3 December 2014

The Home Office is reviewing its fee waiver policy in light of the judgment of the Administrative Court in the case of R (Carter) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 2603 (Admin). The Home Office’s appeal to the Court of Appeal against that judgment has been withdrawn.

The previous policy has been withdrawn. Until a new policy is published, the Home Office will use interim arrangements, so that applicants who would have met the requirements under the previous policy will continue to be granted a fee waiver.

Applicants who would not have qualified for a fee waiver under the previous policy will have their applications placed temporarily on hold. We expect the new policy to be published by spring 2015.

This means that:

1. Applications for a fee waiver can continue to be submitted on the Appendix 1 FLR(FP) FLR(O) form and will be considered.
2. Applications which meet the terms of the previous policy will be given a fee waiver and their FLR(O) or FLR(FP) form will go on to be considered in the usual way.
3. Applications for a fee waiver which do not meet the terms of the previous policy and which would have fallen to be refused will be on hold until the revised policy is announced. They will then be considered under the terms of the revised policy. In the meantime, applicants may write to us with any additional evidence that they meet the terms of the previous fee waiver policy.
4. Alternatively, applicants may choose to apply again on an FLR(FP) or FLR(O) form along with the appropriate fee.
5. Once the revised policy is announced we intend to review all fee waiver applications on hold based on the new policy, and any further evidence submitted, and give applicants a final decision on their application.’


This issue is likely to proceed to the Court of Appeal.