Proposals to cut family immigration route abuse run into further criticism

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) proposals to put off family immigration route abuse has run into further criticism.


Dubbing the proposals as ‘venal’ and ‘unethical’, the solicitors have issued a stern  warning that some of the proposals not only disproportionately affect women, but are impractical and heavy-handed.

The proposals form a part of steps aimed at reducing immigration and follow a consultation on the issue.

Responding to the proposals, Law Society president John Wotton said: ‘The government has called for a “crackdown” on abuse of the family route, yet this consultation lacks credible evidence of significant abuse.’

Among other things, the consultation’s 40 proposals require the solicitors to counter-sign applications for marriage-based leave to remain.

The other proposals include no right of appeal for those applying for family visit visas; extending the probation period before spouses and partners can apply for settlement from two to five years; and a minimum income doorsill for sponsoring family and

Law Society immigration law committee member Stefan Vnuk said: ‘There are ethical issues around co-opting solicitors into immigration control and requiring them to counter-sign applications. They are not trained or regulated for such a role – they are legal advisers. And what happens to applicants who are unrepresented?’

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants policy director Hina Majid has already asserted: ‘Women make up around two-thirds of the immigrants who arrive by the family route and yet the UKBA has not done an equality impact assessment. But maybe it doesn’t matter – the decisions have already been made.’

Coming down heavily on the proposals, Immigration Law Practitioners Association chair Sophie Barrett-Brown has also asserted: ‘This consultation made the hackles rise. It is impractical, venal and nonsensical. The proposed measures are totally disproportionate.’


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