The UK government on Thursday (22) admitted that errors were made in denying some Indian skilled professionals the right to live and work in the UK over a controversial clause in the immigration rules questioning their good conduct and character.
The UK Home Office admitted that around 31 applications will be re-assessed at the conclusion of an internal review into the issue of visa applicants, largely from South Asian countries, being refused settlement rights over perceived dishonesty in reporting their earnings to the country’s tax department.
Among the 31 cases, 12 have been identified as incorrect refusals and will be overturned to give the applicants settlement rights in the UK. The remaining 19 cases will require more information from applicants before reconsidering their cases.
“The Home Office will contact each of the 31 individuals concerned to resolve their cases by the end of December. Errors of this kind are always regrettable, and I do not seek to minimise the impact that the error may have had on the individuals concerned,” UK immigration minister Caroline Nokes said in a statement to Parliament.
“I will also ensure that the findings in this small minority of cases are used to inform our future decision making, to ensure that similar errors are not repeated,” she said.
While individual case information is not openly shared, according to campaigners, a large number of these applicants are from India, with other nationalities including Pakistani and Bangladeshi.
“The review has given us the opportunity to look at all cases and identify a scale of issues. Whilst we believe the majority of these have demonstrated patterns of behaviour that bring into question the character and conduct of applicants, these cases have also given a fresh perspective on the minority of more finely balanced cases, the findings of which we will feed into our future decision-making process,” the Home Office review notes.
The issue involves skilled professionals who were entitled to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or permanent settlement, after a minimum of five years’ lawful residence in the UK. While the Tier 1 (General) visa they used to enter the country was discontinued in 2011, former applicants were eligible to apply for settlement in the country until April this year if they made up the required number of points on their application.
However, legal experts noted a pattern of many such applications being turned down by Home Office caseworkers citing clause 322 (5) of the UK Immigration Act, a discretionary rule aimed at denying convicted criminals and terrorists the right to live in the UK.
The Home Office questioned the “good character” of these professionals over apparent differences in their declared earnings to the UK tax department and the Home Office in order to make up the required points on their settlement application.