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.’