LONDON, JUNE 07,
On Tuesday, several hundred protesters — largely from South Asia, many from India — gathered outside the Houses of Parliament in London to continue to put the spotlight on the use of anti-terror legislation to stop them from settling in the U.K. because of changes they’d made to their tax submissions.
In this, the fourth protest held by the group since the start of the year, there was a level of optimism as other groups joined in — including a group representing Turkish businessmen and women — while several Members of Parliament dropped by to voice their support for the protesters.
“We have to look at the positive signs…,” Tamir Saleem, one of the founders of the campaign, told those gathered, pointing to the announcement of a review by new Home Secretary Sajid Javid. In late May, Mr. Javid said decisions on pending cases would be halted until an internal review on the appropriateness of the use of Paragraph 322 (5) of Britain’s Immigration Rules in these cases had been conducted.
The rule is meant to be used against terrorists and criminals, but with increasing frequency, it has been misused against highly skilled migrants who have made changes to their tax submissions, despite those changes being commonplace, say campaigners.
Campaigners remain concerned that the Home Office has continued to issue letters demanding that individuals caught up in the controversial use of the rule in these cases leave Britain. Jnanesh, an e-commerce consultant originally from Maharashtra, had his application for indefinite leave to remain rejected twice, and had applied for an administrative review. The letter informing him that the review had upheld the use of Article 322 (5) was received by him this week, and dated May 27. This was two days after Mr. Javid wrote to a Parliamentary committee saying decisions would be put on hold. The letter warns him that he had to leave the U.K. “now” or be liable to be detained and removed, or prosecuted for overstaying with a penalty of up to six months in prison. Mr. Jnanesh, who lives in Birmingham, is hoping to push for a judicial review — one of his last remaining recourses, but has lost his right to work or access public services.
“This is incredibly disheartening,” says Mr. Jnanesh, who has had to leave his job and is set to close down the independent consultancy business he had set up.
Since the announcement by Mr. Javid on May 25, others have raised questions about the extent to which the announcement on the halting of the application of the rules was being adhered to across the Home Office. “It seems the memo has yet to reach Home Office Presenting Officers in court today, who are maintaining and relying on decisions referring to 322(5),” wrote Rehana Popal, a human rights and immigration barrister on Twitter last week.
“A review into HMRC-related Tier 1 route cases was commissioned immediately following the Immigration Minister’s appearance at HASC earlier last month and is ongoing. We will await its findings before deciding whether any action needs to be taken on individual cases,” said the Home Office in a statement to this paper. “We are continuing to defend refusals in court where we consider that the decision was correct, and it has been checked under the terms of the review.”
While the Home Office indicated that the pause only applied to cases on which no decision had been taken (the decision on Jnanesh is thought to have been made in April), campaigners have expressed their disappointment that the Home Office shows little sign of giving up chasing such cases, arguing it went against the spirit of the indications made by the Home Secretary that he would revisit the “hostile environment” approach adopted by the Home Office in recent years.