The boy Mir

The Royal Geographical Society are screening a movie called ‘The Boy Mir’ on Wednesday, 28 September 2011. The film follows Mir’s real life story in Afghanistan over the last 10 years, starting at 8 years old. The screening on Wednesday is the UK premier, and doors open at 6:30 pm with the screening commencing at 7:00 pm.

For more details and for the box office click here.

Tier 4 Sponsors, Highly Trusted Sponsorship Guidance

On 18 July 2011 the UKBA published proposed criteria to become a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) under Tier 4. Following comments on that proposal the UKBA published new guidance covering:

  • Sponsorship, including the date by which sponsors must apply for HTS;
  • What happens to those sponsors who don't apply for HTS, or who fail;
  • Details of the transitional arrangements;
  • Details of the educational oversight of the HTS;
  • Reducing the sponsor ratings to 'A' and 'Highly Trusted'.

Sponsors who need to apply to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) must have done so by Friday 9 September 2011 otherwise they can no longer sponsor new students.

Details of the guidance can be found on the UKBA website by clicking here.

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

The Legal Aid Bill aims to cut funding to legal aid and for some areas, such as immigration cases, remove funding for them completely. The Bill went through the Public Bill Committee on 06 September 2011.

There was no discussions relating to the removal of funding for immigration cases, and it appears that many want to avoid the word 'immigration' completely. That said, there was acceptance that there may be 'advice deserts' where some areas will have no to specialist lawyers. The closure of the RMJ and the IAS were highlighted as examples of that.

The Minister pointed out that immigration tribunals 'are designed to be user-friendly and interpreters are provided free of charge' as a way of countering the restriction to legal aid in such cases. He went on to make a point that legal aid will be retained for 'domestic violence immigration cases, cases before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and immigration detention cases, including advocacy before the tribunal.'

The full debate and written submissions from concerned organisations, individuals and companies can be found here.

Also, if you're interested how a bill for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law, is presented for debate click here.

Online Visa Applications

From 10 September 2011 all visa applications from the following countries must be made using the electronic online application system found at Visa4UK site:

  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia

From 11 September 2011 the same applies for the following countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Qatar
  • Kuwait
  • United Arab Emirates

Paper applications will no longer be accepted.

Article 1F of the Refugee Convention and Discretionary Leave

Article 1F excludes certain individuals from full refugee status, and the protections that come with that status. Those excluded include:

  • Persons who have committed a crime against, peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity;
  • Persons who have committed a serious non-political crime; or
  • Persons guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

From 02 September 2011 a person that falls under this exclusion but who cannot be returned because of potential breaches to their Article 3 human rights protection will be granted a new restrictive discretionary leave on the following basis:

  • the leave will be issued for a maximum of 6 months at any one time;
  • there may be conditions restricting employment or occupations in the UK including restrictions on the individual working / volunteering a particular regulated / professional field.
  • there may be conditions prohibiting education;
  • there may be residence restrictions;
  • there may be conditions requiring the person to report at regular intervals;
  • there may be restrictions on the individual working / volunteering a particular regulated / professional field.

The full guidance can be found by clicking here.

Tier 4 Students and Working

There has been some confusion surrounding the UKBA's guidance on what type of employment a student can or cannot undertake.

Students are not meant to fill a full-time permanent vacancy but they can work full time during the vacation period and on completion of their course. Seems contradictory doesn't it? Well the UKBA have suggested some further guidance to clear that up:

  • A full-time permanent vacancy would cover any full-time post that is permanently on a companies staffing group.
  • What is and isn't full-time is dependent on the specific post on offer and not the contract type.
  • For example, a manager that is required in the office on a permanent basis would be a full-time permanent post, but an assistant or secretary to that manager required in the office to complete a particular project would not be, and a student can fill that post.

However, just to make it a little more complicated, casual work - such as bar work - would not be deemed a full-time permanent vacancy.

Whilst the student is awaiting a decision on an application to move from being a student to another category / employment route they must still comply with the above conditions until such time that application is approved and they are no longer a student.

If you have any questions relating to the above points, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The UKBA and Country Reports

The UKBA is responsible for considering asylum applications. In order to do so effectively they must fully take into account relevant information from the applicant's application and evidence, and then review it in conjunction with available country of origin information, as well as other relevant factors.

The UKBA’s department called the Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) collates and summarises information on countries giving rise to asylum claims in the UK. It was the use of those reports that the Independent Chief Inspector investigated between October 2010 and May 2010. The ICI concluded:

  • The UKBA needs to adopt a consistent approach to the use of COIS reports;
  • 17% of decisions demonstrated a selective use of COI reports or contained assertions which the full range of country information did not support;
  • the information in the COI reports was sometimes used selectively or otherwise inappropriately in decision making;
  • COI was also included selectively in statements of policy with the risk that case owners could make decisions without taking into account all available evidence;
  • there was no consistent coordination of the various COI documents produced by the Agency; and
  • in the absence of a COI report, case owners operated very different approaches to researching COI and there was no mechanism to pool obtained knowledge.

The ICI said that the reports play a vital part in ensuring that decision makers are equipped with the most up-to-date and accurate information about conditions in other countries, but improvements needed to be made, and we wholeheartedly agree.

The full report can be found here.

Families of Migrants

The government are looking at making changes to the rules that allow family members to reunite and live with migrants who have already achieved full settlement (permanent residence) status. The proposed changes, which unsurprisingly make the system tougher, include:

  • Five-year probation period before family members are allowed to apply for settlement.
  • The migrant will be required to demonstrate a higher level of income.
  • The family member, on applying for settlement, will need to demonstrate they have qualified an English language course equivalent to level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (Cefr).

Under the proposals the unemployed or those living on less than around £5,000 a year would be banned from applying to come to the UK. The family member, once in the UK, will be denied access to welfare benefits during the 5 year probation period.

The government are also looking to change the human rights protection to allow deportation of family members who have been living illegally in the UK.

If implemented, the proposals would be far stricter than those in force in most EU countries, the US and Canada, says Thomas Huddleston, a researcher for the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group.