Government plans for borders and immigration 2023

[Just a reminder that it is within international law to seek asylum]

12 September 2023: From :Home Office and The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP: New Illegal Migration Act measures and age dispute assessment tests

Next steps set out for delivery of new laws to stop the boats.

A series of measures to strengthen the immigration system and prevent abuse are being introduced to Parliament this week, marking the next step in the delivery of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 and our plan to stop the boats.

Legislation signed on 11 September includes changes to strengthen the asylum decision making process to clamp down on abuse of the system. This will see updated criteria for caseworkers assessing credibility of claims by explicitly setting out that factors such as the destruction of, or failure to produce an identity document, as well as refusal to disclose information required to access an electronic device like a phone passcode when asked, should be considered when assessing claims.

Following the government’s commitment to clamp down on illegal migration in order to help more people through safe and legal routes, the regulations will also confirm the launch of a consultation in October with local authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as organisations within the sector to look at the UK’s capacity to accommodate and support those arriving through these routes. In January, a report will be laid before Parliament which will set out what is meant by safe and legal routes, detailing our existing and any proposed additional routes, and how they can be accessed by those most in need.

The measures will also clarify that the Home Secretary, rather than the courts, will determine what constitutes a reasonable time period to detain a person for immigration purposes. This includes when they are being removed from the UK. This will strengthen our response to illegal migration, by ensuring that, when detainees challenge the length of their detention as unreasonable, the courts must take the Home Secretary’s view into account.

Separately, secondary legislation laid by the Ministry of Justice this week will, once approved by Parliament, authorise the use of x-rays in scientific age assessments, paving the way for the Home Office to improve their ability to effectively determine the age of illegal entrants making disputed claims to be children. Age assessment is an important process to help prevent asylum seeking adults posing as children as a way of accessing support they are not entitled to, and allow genuine children to access age-appropriate services.

Legislation will then be laid by the Home Office, taking forward powers under the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which will specify that x-rays of teeth and bones of the hands and wrists and MRIs of knees and collar bones can be used as part of the age assessment process.

This step will mean that – once approved by Parliament and implemented – decision makers will be able to take into account the refusal of a person claiming to be an unaccompanied child to be tested by these specified methods without good reason as damaging to their credibility when assessing their age. This statutory instrument forms part of the legal framework which will allow for the policy and operational development of this new approach, with rollout expected in 2024. These methods are widely used across Europe in many countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, said:

Implementing the measures within our landmark Illegal Migration Act marks a crucial step forwards in our fight against illegal migration.

Scientific age assessments are also vital to weed out adults who exploit the system and present serious safeguarding risks. It is only right that the credibility of those who pose as unaccompanied children and refuse to be scientifically age assessed is questioned and held against them as part of the decision making process.

The use of MRI and x-rays are in line with the recommendations made by the Age Estimation Scientific Advisory Committee (AESAC) in their report published in January 2023. The committee provides advice to the Home Office on the use of existing and emerging scientific methods of age assessment, and the ethical considerations and best practice associated with them. The changes come as statistics show that between 2016 and June 2023 there were 11,275 asylum cases where age was disputed and subsequently resolved, of which almost half (49% – 5551 individuals) were found to be adults.

Many of those arriving in the UK who claim to be children do not have clear evidence, such as a passport, to back this up, making it difficult to assess their age. An example includes a man who crossed the Channel and claimed to be 16 years old. Immigration officers carried out an initial age assessment and deemed him to be 21 years old. He was dispersed to a hotel and referred to a local authority by his solicitor. Following a full assessment by the local authority, it transpired that he had claimed asylum and lived in another European country for five years and was 26 years old.

These changes will take a robust approach to deter adults from claiming to be children to prevent any delay to their removal when the duty to remove, under the Illegal Migration Act, applies and minimise the safeguarding issues which arise if a child is inadvertently treated as an adult, and equally if an adult is wrongly assessed as a child and placed in accommodation with younger children to whom they could present a risk.

The Illegal Migration Act will stop the boats by changing the law so that people who come to the UK illegally can be detained and then swiftly returned to a safe third country or their home country. Further measures, including the duty to remove, will be rolled out in the coming months.

The government remains determined to stop the boats and deter people from making dangerous journeys to the UK. The act is one important part of our collective effort to break the cycle, end exploitation by gangs and prevent further loss of life. We are tackling this issue on all fronts – including working upstream with international partners, clamping down on the criminal gangs with stepped-up enforcement, and working with the French to prevent more crossings.

5 September 2023: Hansard: Illegal Migration Update: Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 5 September 2023

Robert Jenrick : That is a very important question. We have not done an amnesty—that is what the last Labour Government did when they had a backlog of asylum decisions. We have chosen to do good, old-fashioned management reforms to make this service more productive and deliver for the taxpayer. We have also taken on this issue in respect both of countries with high grant rates, such as Afghanistan, and of those with low grant rates, such as Albania, and we have rapidly got through those cases. There are a number of nationalities—Egypt, Turkey, India—where grant rates should be very low indeed because there are very few circumstances in which somebody should be successfully claiming asylum in this country. We want to ensure that our asylum grant rates are no higher than those of comparable European countries.

Read more:

17 August 2023: Quakers call on government to stop demonizing asylum seekers 

The ‘hostile environment’ offered to refugees continues to bear its dreadful fruit. Quakers say the government must recognise that of God in everyone.

20 July 2023: Quakers: Quakers condemn passage of the government’s “senselessly cruel” illegal migration act

As the government’s illegal migration bill passes the Lords, Quakers in Britain have joined 289 organisations to uphold and stand alongside those affected.

The joint statement warns that the Act abandons the UK’s moral and legal obligations, risking the breach of multiple international human rights treaties including the Refugee Convention.

The Act will force people into situations that threaten their lives, it says, whether by placing children in detention or sending people off to countries where their lives might be at grave risk.

The Illegal Migration Bill had a choppy progress through parliament, with the Lords making repeated amendments.

And the actual implementation of the Act is unclear. The government now has a legal duty to detain and remove those arriving in the UK illegally, either to Rwanda or another ‘safe’ country.

But the Court of Appeal ruled the Rwanda plan unlawful last month, and there are no deals with other countries.

Under this legislation there is no way for refugees to claim asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

But the government accepts virtually no asylum routes as legal. All refugees except for Ukrainians and those from Hong Kong are “inadmissible”.

They therefore fall back on the very small boats crossing the Channel that the government is trying to prevent.

This legislation will result in a de facto ‘asylum ban’, the UN Refugee Agency said in March.

“[This Act] turns our country’s back on people seeking safety, blocking them from protection, support and justice at a time they need it most,” signatories including Greenpeace, Oxfam and Save the Children wrote.

Quakers believe that in every person, every homeless child, every refugee, every worker or preacher, there is a child of God. This has led to a longstanding commitment to welcoming people seeking sanctuary.

Read the statement here

and Liberty’s blog here:

Right To Remain: ‘We will always fight for our community’s right to seek safety and a better life’ – on the passage of the Illegal Migration Act

Right to Remain is one of 290 organisations coming together to condemn the government’s Illegal Migration Act. We stand in solidarity with everyone affected in our community. We will always fight for our community’s right to seek safety and a better life.

Below is the joint civil society statement we signed – which you can also read here, on Liberty’s website.


As a coalition of 290 organisations representing the human rights, migrants’ rights, refugee and asylum, anti-trafficking, children’s, violence against women and girls, LGBTQI+, disability rights, health, LGBTQI+, housing, racial justice, criminal justice, arts, international development, environment, democracy, pan-equality, faith, access to justice, and other sectors, we condemn the passage of the Illegal Migration Act today, and stand in solidarity with all who will be affected.

We all deserve to live safe from harm. But this senselessly cruel Act will have a devastating impact on people’s lives. It turns our country’s back on people seeking safety, blocking them from protection, support, and justice at a time they need it most.

In abandoning the UK’s moral and legal obligations, the Act risks breaching multiple international human rights treaties including the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights while shielding the Government from accountability. The UK Government has admitted that it cannot confirm if the Act is compatible with the UK’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Act will force people into situations that threaten their lives – whether by placing children in detention or sending people off to countries where their lives might be at grave risk. Moreover, the Act attacks the very core of human rights, which is the principle that we all have them regardless of who we are or where we are from. In stripping the most basic rights from people seeking safety and a better life, the Act dismantles human rights protections for all of us.

Either all of us have human rights, or none of us do. While the UK Government’s plans will harm those seeking safety the most, this is an attack on all of us and the values we hold dear.

The government has rushed through this law despite broad and deep opposition. But our fight is not over. As caring people, we will continue to fight for the right for people to seek safety and a better life without being forced to take dangerous journeys and without being punished for how they enter the UK. We will keep holding those in power to account for upholding the UK’s international obligations. We will strive for an asylum and immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect. We will stand in solidarity with and fight alongside everyone who makes the UK their home and build a society that treats everyone with compassion.


Our fight is not over, and Right to Remain’s message remains the same.

Migration is life. No one is illegal. These walls must fall.

Read more:

Shame on them! 18 July 2023: Guardian: Asylum seeker barge docks as lords vote for ‘shameful’ UK illegal migration bill

A barge that will be used to house 500 asylum seekers has belatedly arrived in a port on England’s southern coast after voting in the House of Lords paved the way for the government’s small boats and migration bill to become law.

The arrival of the Bibby Stockholm, which was pulled by a tug into Portland Port in Dorset on Tuesday morning, coincided with condemnation of the previous night’s drama in which the Conservative frontbench saw off five further changes being sought by peers to the bill, including modern slavery protections and child detention limits.

At least one other vote was ditched in the face of the government victories. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, a strident critic of the bill, also dropped his demand for a statement on tackling the refugee problem and human trafficking to the UK, after a similar proposal was rejected by MPs.

The end of the standoff between Lords and MPs during so-called ping-pong, where legislation is batted between the Lords and Commons until agreement is reached, paves the way for the bill to receive royal assent.

The reforms are a key part of the prime minister Rishi Sunak’s bid to deter people from making Channel crossings. They will prevent people from claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

The government also hopes the changes will ensure people who are detained are promptly removed, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda, which is the subject of a legal challenge.

Read more:

11 July 2023: Open Democracy: I spent a day watching asylum seekers being jailed. Here’s what I learnt

Asylum seekers are being imprisoned for entering the UK illegally – when there is no legal way of getting in

Judge Simon James begins his sentencing remarks at Canterbury Crown Court to a room empty of any defendants. Instead, the young person to whom the remarks are addressed is visible only on a small TV screen hanging in the corner. He’s actually in a prison elsewhere in Kent, slumped in a chair in a small room, connected to the court via a video link.

The young person is from Sudan. He is being prosecuted for a crime that did not exist a year ago: arriving in the UK “without a valid entry clearance”. He has admitted to boarding a small boat in France and crossing the English Channel into UK waters in order to be brought to shore and claim asylum. (He was initially accused of piloting the boat he travelled in, but this charge was dropped due to lack of evidence.)

The Nationality and Borders Act, introduced in 2021 by then-home secretary Priti Patel, passed through Parliament last year. It amended section 24 of the 1971 Immigration Act, closing a loophole in the original law: it no longer matters that this young person intended to claim asylum upon arrival.

In March, a Court of Appeal ruling confirmed that Article 31 of the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention – which requires signatory states not to penalise refugees who enter a country illegally – does not defend against the crime of unlawful arrival. That means people seeking asylum are not exempt from prosecution.

Read more:

6 July 2023: Guardian: We must revive the spirit of the Stansted 15

As one of the Stansted 15 activists, I was moved to read Koye Adebakin’s letter (21 June), in which he told how his partner had been on the deportation flight that our direct action stopped and was later given leave to remain in the UK after the Home Office was found not to have acted in accordance with the law.

To be reminded that the action had such impact is spiritual sustenance in these dark times. The oppressive terror prosecution of the Stansted 15 affected all our lives profoundly, but the action was the best thing I’ve ever done.

As Paulo Freire said, to stand with the oppressed is to suffer with the oppressed and fight at their side. I still believe the hostile environment can be defeated by the determined long-term organising efforts of a broad-based movement, including those affected by the policy.

Read more:

We must revive the spirit of the Stansted 15

Activist Melanie Strickland calls for a renewed effort to defeat the government’s hostile immigration policies

As one of the Stansted 15 activists, I was moved to read Koye Adebakin’s letter (21 June), in which he told how his partner had been on the deportation flight that our direct action stopped and was later given leave to remain in the UK after the Home Office was found not to have acted in accordance with the law.

To be reminded that the action had such impact is spiritual sustenance in these dark times. The oppressive terror prosecution of the Stansted 15 affected all our lives profoundly, but the action was the best thing I’ve ever done.

As Paulo Freire said, to stand with the oppressed is to suffer with the oppressed and fight at their side. I still believe the hostile environment can be defeated by the determined long-term organising efforts of a broad-based movement, including those affected by the policy.

26 June 2023: EIN: Council of Europe Express Concern Over Illegal Migration Bill

PACE says the legislation risks breaching the UK’s international legal obligations and thus the rule of law

The Resolution States: “The Assembly is concerned that recent legislation introduced by the UK Government to Parliament, and in particular the Bill of Rights Bill and the Illegal Migration Bill, indicates an increased willingness on the part of the UK Government, and certain legislators, to legislate in a way that could risk breaching the UK’s international legal obligations and thus the rule of law. The Assembly is extremely concerned at such developments, and in particular what signal that may send both domestically and internationally.

“The Assembly, moreover, expresses concern that both the Bill of Rights Bill and the Illegal Migration Bill would increase legal uncertainty and conflicts between UK domestic law and the requirements of the European Convention on Human rights – as well as a number of other international conventions. The Assembly notes that these concerns have been similarly expressed by numerous civil society organisations, the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament, the UK’s National Human Rights Institutions, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”

Read more: EIN,

11 June 2023: BBC: Illegal Migration Bill breaches human rights obligations, MPs and peers warn

The Illegal Migration Bill breaches a “number of the UK’s human rights obligations”, MPs and peers have said.

The bill, which aims to deport those arriving in the UK without permission, would deny the majority of refugees any access to the asylum system, the Joint Committee on Human Rights said.

Children and victims of trafficking and modern slavery would be impacted, chairwoman Joanna Cherry added.

The government said it took its international obligations seriously.

However, it has faced criticism from opposition parties and charities, who argue the bill is unworkable and could breach international law.

The legislation, intended to try to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats, has already passed the Commons but has run into strong opposition in the House of Lords.

It would give ministers the power to remove anyone arriving in the UK illegally, and migrants would then be barred from claiming asylum.

Instead they would be detained and removed, either to Rwanda – with which the UK has an agreement – or another “safe country”.

The bill would enshrine in law broad detention and search powers, and deny protections to modern slavery victims, as well as removing the right of appeals following age assessments.

Read more:

10 June 2023 Guardian: Key plank of new UK asylum law dropped to cut backlog

Home Office will no longer distinguish between people arriving by irregular means and other asylum seekers

Rishi Sunak has quietly dropped a key plank of last year’s asylum law that introduced a two-tier refugee system and made lives tougher for tens of thousands of people who arrived in the UK via small boats.

In a move to cut the asylum backlog, the Home Office said in a written statement on Thursday that it would no longer differentiate between people who arrived by irregular means, such as those who crossed the Channel, and other asylum seekers, as had been stipulated in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act.

who crossed the Channel, and other asylum seekers, as had been stipulated in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act.

It means the government will be able to speed up the processing of claims for about 55,000 people who have arrived in the UK since last June, according to refugee experts. Of those, nearly 15,000 from countries with high grant rates such as Afghanistan and Sudan can be processed using questionnaires instead of via in-person interviews.

Read more:

See: Spinechilling: PM statement on illegal migration delivery update: 5 June 2023

17 May 2023: Guardian: Asylum seekers in England and Wales to lose basic protections in move to cut hotel use

Exclusive: ministers plan to exempt asylum seekers’ landlords from rules including minimum room sizes

Ministers are removing basic housing protections from asylum seekers under new rules designed to move tens of thousands out of hotels and into the private rented sector.

The changes would exempt landlords from regulations governing everything from electrical safety to minimum room sizes, leading campaigners to warn that the government is preparing to cram people into small spaces in an effort to alleviate the crisis in asylum seeker accommodation.

MPs are set to vote as soon as Wednesday on the plans, which have been put forward by Suella Braverman, the home secretary, and Michael Gove, the housing secretary.

Under the changes, landlords of asylum seekers in England and Wales would no longer have to register with local authorities. The rules would allow landlords to house asylum seekers for two years without obtaining a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence, a standard requirement for any landlord renting to more than one household in a single property.

Mary Atkinson, a campaigns and network manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “HMO licences exist to make sure that accommodation meets basic levels of safety and sanitation. However, much asylum accommodation already falls below these standards, with people seeking sanctuary housed in cramped, windowless rooms smaller than prison cells.

“Without HMO licences, already traumatised people will be at risk of living in places that are unfit for human habitation.”

Read more:

11 May 2023: BID: Ten Reasons to Bin the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’

1. It Abolishes the Right to Seek Asylum.

2. Authoritarian, Unlimited Powers To Detain

3. All humans Have Human Rights, right?

4. It will be Racialised

5. It Creates a Generational Subclass.

6. It is Delusional Posturing

7. Excludes Refugee Children From Safeguarding

8. Removing Access to Justice

9. Detention Industrial Complex

10. There is Another Way

Read more at Bail for Immigration Detainees,

10 May 2023: Quakers in Britain and the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network have signed a joint solidarity statement with 174 other organisations on the ‘Illegal Migration Bill’.

The statement calls on the government to withdraw the bill immediately on the basis that it is effectively a ban on asylum, extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the UK. Liberty sent the statement to all members of the House of Lords ahead of a key debate on the bill on 10 May.

Read more:

EDM 1147: Illegal Migration Bill

That this House believes the proposals in the Illegal Migration Bill contravene international law, including the Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; 

considers that the Bill will effectively close the UK’s asylum system and undermine the ability of trafficking victims to access protection; 

regrets the rushed timetable for the Bill’s passage through the House, including the lack of a bill committee, and the short committee stage; 

regrets the failure of the Government to allow proper scrutiny of its policies, including by failing to publish its impact assessment; 

notes that there was no mention of any proposals resembling those found in the Bill in the general election manifesto of any party represented in the House; 

and in light of the grave consequences of the Bill and the failure of scrutiny by this House, calls on Members of the House of Lords to vote against the Bill.

EDM 1147: Tabled by Stuart C McDonald, 09 May 2023

Put Your MP to Work – Ask Them to Sign EDM 1147

To find your MP go here:

Guardian: UK migration bill impractical and morally unacceptable, says Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks plan in Lords, saying it will harm UK’s standing and fails to address causes of movement of refugees

Read more:

ILPA: Letter from Robert Jenrick in response to Joint Open Letter to Home Secretary Re: Remedying the ‘Asylum Questionnaire’ (2 May 2023)

ILPA has received the below letter from Robert Jenrick, Minister of State for Immigration, in response to the Joint Open Letter sent to the Home Secretary on 1 March 2023 regarding remedying the ‘Asylum Questionnaire’. 

Read more on their website:

27 April 2023: UNHCR: Statement on Asylum Processing and Resettlement via UNHCR

UNHCR is aware of recent public statements suggesting that refugees wishing to apply for asylum in the United Kingdom should do so via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ respective offices in their home region. UNHCR wishes to clarify that there is no mechanism through which refugees can approach UNHCR with the intention of seeking asylum in the U.K. There is no asylum visa or ‘queue’ for the United Kingdom

UNHCR works in partnership with a number of governments on its global resettlement scheme. Resettlement is made available only for a very limited number of refugees who have left their own countries and been identified as particularly at risk in the countries where they initially sought refuge, and cannot integrate there or return home. It is the rare exception –  available to fewer than  1%  of  refugees  worldwide. There is no application process for resettlement – refugees at heightened risk are identified by UNHCR through our ongoing protection programmes in countries of asylum. Currently, new resettlement opportunities to the UK are minimal, and there is no quota for any nationality currently in place. Resettlement arrivals in the UK – mostly of cases referred pre-pandemic – currently stand at a rate of around 100 individuals arriving in the UK per month. 

The overwhelming majority of refugees have no access to such pathways to the UK. The vast majority  of refugees remain in countries neighbouring their own or apply for asylum elsewhere, with only a very small number seeking protection in the UK.

For further information, see UNHCR’s Fact Sheet on Safe and Regular Routes to the UK for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers here. For more detail on asylum in the UK and the Illegal Migration Bill, please see the explainer document here.

Read more:

[Is Suella Braverman ignorant of the facts of the system, or is she deliberately lying?]

Independent: Braverman rebuked for falsely claiming Sudanese asylum seekers have ‘various’ ways of coming to UK

The UNHCR said an ‘overwhelming majority’ of refugees have no access to safe and legal routes to the UK, noting that only a ‘very small’ number seek asylum in the UK.

Suella Braverman has been rebuked by the UN’s refugee agency for falsely claiming Sudanese asylum seekers have “various” legal ways to reach the UK.

The Home Secretary said there was “no good reason” for those fleeing Sudan to cross the English Channel in small boats and instead urged asylum seekers to contact the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“If you are fleeing Sudan for humanitarian reasons, there are various mechanisms you can use, the UNHCR is present in the region and they are the right mechanism by which people should apply if they do want to seek asylum in the UK,” Ms Braverman said.

Read more:

26 April 2023: See ‘The Illegal Migration Bill is “the Refugee Ban Bill” and why we must fight back:

Illegal Migration Bill Debated on Wednesday 26 April 2023

See also the transcript of the discussion in the House of Commons in Hansard: Illegal Migration Bill Debated on Wednesday 26 April 2023, passed by 289 to 230 votes.

Passage of the Bill

You can follow here how the Bill goes from the third reading before passing to the House of Lords:

Guardian report:

Updated 23 April 2023: Independent: Home Office faces ‘exodus’ of asylum caseworkers who fear being forced to break law

Exclusive: With attrition rate already at 46 per cent, official says more will quit if Illegal Migration Bill passes

The Home Office is facing an “exodus” of asylum caseworkers who fear being forced to act illegally under the Illegal Migration Bill, it has been claimed.

An official who decides claims told The Independent staff were already angry at the home secretary for accusing them of working too slowly when they are hampered by lost documents, rapidly changing policies and “inefficient” processes.

The annual attrition rate for asylum decision-makers hit 46 per cent last year, forcing the government to introduce a “recruitment and retention allowance” to maintain staff while scrambling to recruit more.

Read more:

Updated 22 April 2023: Home Office: New measures to stop the boats in Illegal Immigration Bill

Reforms will speed up the removal of people with no right to be here and enhance safeguards to protect unaccompanied children.

Today, Friday 21 April, the government has tabled a number of amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill to strengthen it further, ahead of it returning to Parliament next week – helping to deliver our priority of stopping the boats.

The amendments tabled this week will help to speed up the removal of people with no right to be here and enhance safeguards for unaccompanied children who cross the Channel in small boats.

Amendments also include a commitment to consult local authorities within three months of the bill becoming law to understand their capacity to support people coming to the UK through safe and legal routes, and to publish a report on existing, and any proposed additional safe and legal routes, within six months of the bill becoming law.

Together these will provide greater clarity and ensure progress on delivering our plans for safe and legal routes with an annual cap, agreed by Parliament, to ensure we are properly supporting people to rebuild their lives in the way communities would expect.

The UK will continue to play a world-leading role in protecting those in need who come to the country illegally. However, to tackle the abuse of the system which detracts from our ability to help those in need, further amendments are being made to ensure the UK can better protect its borders.

To speed up removals, amendments will make clear that the UK’s domestic courts cannot apply any interim measure to stop someone being removed if they bring forward a legal challenge, aside from in the narrow route available under the bill where they are at risk of serious and irreversible harm.

Instead, challenges would be heard remotely after the person concerned had been removed. This will ensure that someone would only be able to apply for a domestic injunction to prevent their removal if they were to face “serious and irreversible harm” in the country they were due to be removed to.

Amendments will also make clear that ministers may exercise discretion in relation to interim measures issued by the European Court of Human Rights, and set certain principles under which they would make a decision whether to comply or not. Alongside the amendment, the government is having constructive discussions regarding reform to the Rule 39 process in Strasbourg, to support greater timeliness, accountability and representation in such cases.

Further amendments include:

  • giving immigration officers new powers to search for and seize electronic devices like mobile phones from people who come to the UK illegally – to help them assess whether someone has the right to be in the UK
  • increasing protections around the safeguarding risk caused by adults pretending to be children, by bringing in new regulations that will see age-disputed people treated as an adult if they refuse to undergo a scientific age assessment.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

The British public are rightly fed up with people coming to the UK through dangerous small boat crossings, and myself and the Prime Minister are absolutely committed to stopping the boats once and for all.

The changes I am announcing today will help secure our borders and make it easier for us to remove people by preventing them from making last minute, bogus claims, while ensuring we strengthen our safe and legal routes.

My focus remains on ensuring this landmark piece of legislation does what it is intended to do, and we now must work to pass it through Parliament as soon as possible so we can stop the boats.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

It is not fair that people can pay criminal gangs thousands of pounds and pass through multiple safe countries to come to the UK illegally.

The only way to break the business model of the evil people smugglers and secure our borders is to make sure that if people come to the UK illegally, they won’t be able to stay.

These amendments will make it easier to swiftly remove individuals who come here illegally from safe countries, whilst re-affirming our commitment to help those directly from regions of conflict and instability.

These new powers are part of further amendments tabled by the government today to strengthen the landmark Illegal Migration Bill, which will see people who come to the UK illegally in scope for detention and swift removal.

The amendments relating to safe and legal routes were laid by Tim Loughton MP, and measures to prevent UK courts from interfering to stop a removal were laid by Danny Kruger MP – the government will support these measures when the bill goes back to the House of Commons for report stage next week. The remaining measures have been tabled by the government.

The amendments will be published later today on the Parliamentary website: Illegal Migration Bill publications – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament

20 April 2023: Guardian: UK to ignore ECHR rulings on small boats ‘after Sunak caves in to Tory right’

Backbench rebels push prime minister to harden illegal migration bill to ignore court’s interim rulings

Rishi Sunak has caved in to demands from hard-right MPs to allow the UK to ignore rulings from the European court of human rights on small boat crossings, government sources have said.

Backbench rebels have been pushing the prime minister to harden the illegal migration bill so ministers can ignore interim rulings. One of the Strasbourg court’s rule 39 injunctions blocked the government’s first attempt to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda last year.

These so-called interim measures are typically used to suspend an expulsion or extradition, often by asylum seekers who fear persecution if they are returned to their home country.

Read more:

David Forbes comments: ILPA have been unusually bold and outspoken on the Bill – see first page of the attached. If you have time, do also look at the proposed amendments because this tells a sorry tale of what our government is aiming to perpetrate in our name.:

ILPA: Illegal Migration Bill

House of Commons, Committee of the whole House (Day 2) 28 March 2023

  1. The Illegal Migration Bill represents an assault on the rights of migrants and on the rule of
    law. ILPA opposes the Bill in its entirety.
  2. The result of the Bill will be to create a large class of people, present in the UK, but without
    any hope of securing lawful status. In reality, it will create a permanent population of people
    present in the UK, whose asylum and human rights claims will be inadmissible and
    undecided, who will be indefinitely detained and supported, who will be unremovable
    indefinitely, and who will have no access to procedures for regularising their status. This
    denizen sub-class, and their UK-born children, will be condemned to being deprived of the
    ability to live meaningful lives from the fruits of their own work and effort: unable to work,
    unable to rent, and with no route to integration and acceptance. It will be a life so arid as to
    be without basic dignity; it will be a life of degradation. The narrow exceptions or saving
    provisions come nowhere near rescuing those affected from breaches of their fundamental
  3. The Bill seeks to undermine the Refugee Convention, the UN Convention on the Rights of
    the Child, the European Convention on Action against Trafficking, the European Convention
    on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Children Act 1989.
  4. This briefing focuses on amendments to Clauses 1 to 36 of the Bill.

Read more:

6 April: Guardian: Plans for new sites in UK for asylum seekers ‘risk humanitarian catastrophe’

About 170 organisations warn ministers not to put people in military bases, barges and ferries around the country

Ministers have been warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” if asylum seekers arriving in the UK are accommodated in camps on military bases and on barges.

Approximately 171 organisations – including the Refugee Council, Choose Love, faith groups, city of sanctuary representatives and law centres – have written to Rishi Sunak urging him to “listen to common sense” and scrap plans for asylum camps at former RAF bases at Scampton in Lincolnshire, Wethersfield in Essex and Catterick in North Yorkshire and the site of a former prison in Bexhill in East Sussex, along with proposals to use ferries and barges.

The letter says the sites are “deeply unsuitable” and the government risks creating an “entirely preventable humanitarian catastrophe” if it presses ahead with plans to house people seeking asylum on these sites.

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4 April, 2023: JPTI: 1450+ church leaders oppose the Illegal Migration Bill

A statement signed by over 1450 church leaders opposing the government’s Illegal Migration has been handed to 10 Downing Street, saying that the government’s proposals are “incompatible with our Christian conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God”.

In the statement, church leaders say they are “appalled” by the proposals in the government’s Illegal Migration Bill to “detain, punish and reject thousands of people seeking safety”, and that they will “foster discrimination and distrust” and cause “immeasurable harm”.

Church leaders are calling on the government to withdraw the legislation, and to honour the UK’s “moral and international obligations” by establishing “safe and accessible routes to enable the UK to play its part in welcoming people in need of safety”. The leaders argue that when two out of three people crossing the channel in small boats have their claim for asylum accepted, rendering them unable to have their claim heard or access a safe route essentially puts a ban on claiming asylum in the UK for many people.

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QARN signed this statement

Updated 20 March 2023: ILPA: Illegal Migration Bill, House of Commons, Second Reading

Executive Summary
The Illegal Migration Bill represents an assault on the rights of migrants and on the rule of law.
The Bill starts with a statement under section 19(1)(b) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that the Home Secretary Suella Braverman is unable to say that its provisions are compatible with the rights to be found in the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’). The Home Secretary’s admission on the face of the bill of potential incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) is an express acknowledgment that the Bill is likely to lead the UK to be in breach of its international obligations under the ECHR.

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Updated 13 March 2023: Justice Gap: ‘Disregarding International Law is One Thing Ditching Democratic Rights Quite Another’

All of this has been said before.  Everyone knows that the asylum-seekers and migrants crowding on the shores of Calais have bigger worries than whether Suella Braverman has made a statement denying the applicability of the ECHR, and that people-smugglers are more motivated by profit than deterred by fear.  From here, it is easy, and perhaps correct, to assume that the legislation is not really intended to go anywhere.  It is nothing more than bait for the red-tops and an easy way of dividing the Conservatives from Labour ahead of the next general election.

But if we take the government at its word, and accept that this is a piece of legislation genuinely intended to solve the crisis, it may be that the outcome the government expects in the courts is not the one that it will get.  Judging from Suella Braverman’s comments before the House of Commons yesterday, she is fully aware that the legislation is incompatible with the UK’s international obligations.  Despite the ‘brightest legal minds’ in the country (one must pity James Eadie KC, the advocate the government often turns to, if he is trying to construct a legal defence for this) considering the question, no positive answer has been forthcoming.  Braverman has been left denying the legislation’s compatibility with rights in Parliament while doing the media rounds claiming its compatibility .

Read more: Nicholas Reed Langen, Justice Gap

New York Times: Legacy of Australia’s Immigration Policies Haunts Survivors and Supporters

The country’s grueling detention programs have ensnared thousands — and appear to flout international law.

[…] Those same policies appear to be the playbook for proposed legislation in Britain that would give the Home Office a “duty” to remove nearly all migrants who cross the English Channel on small boats, as my colleague Megan Specia reports.

The proposed legislation would allow the government to swiftly detain and deport anyone who arrives “in breach of immigration control,” the bill reads. “The main thing they have in common is in seeking to criminalize, almost, asylum, or at least to undermine the right to an institution of asylum,” said Ms. Foster, the legal scholar, of Britain’s and Australia’s policies.

“The Australian policy has been premised for a long time on the notion that if one arrives without prior authorization — and regardless of whether or not that individual is a refugee — that they’re somehow doing the wrong thing,” she said. “They’re illegal, they’re unlawful, they’re ‘unauthorized maritime arrival.’”

Even the three-word slogan is the same: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain appeared on Tuesday behind a pulpit emblazoned with the rallying cry “Stop the boats.” Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, used precisely the same language to promote his own policy a decade ago.

As in Australia, the policy is of questionable legality. On the first page of the proposed legislation, Suella Braverman, the British home secretary, writes that she is “unable to make a statement” that the bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. (The proposed legislation follows a plan by the government to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda that is currently being challenged in court.)

Some in Australia who have seen the effects of the policy and the tremendous suffering it has provoked find it unconscionable that it should be used as inspiration elsewhere.

Katie Robertson is a lawyer and the director of the Stateless Legal Clinic at the Melbourne Law School who has spent the last 10 years advocating for men, women, children and newborn babies who have been subjected to the policy. She has worked with people who were held in dangerous conditions with inadequate medical care or forcibly separated from their families, or who have experienced unspeakable trauma.

“The devastating human impact these policies had on the lives of many can’t be overestimated,” she said. Years after being held offshore, she said, children she had worked with were still displaying very disturbing and concerning behaviors.

“Australia, as a nation — we will never be able to address the wrong that’s been caused to these people,” she said, of the policy. She added: “It should serve as a warning, rather than a blueprint.”

Read more:

Open Democracy: UK’s Migrant Ban Will Trigger ‘Race to the Bottom’ on Human Rights

Rishi Sunak’s plans to bar migrants who enter the UK by small boats from claiming asylum could trigger a “race to the bottom” on refugee rights among other countries, MEPs have told openDemocracy. The Illegal Migration Bill, announced by the prime minister on Tuesday, would give the home secretary, Suella Braverman, powers to deport migrants who cross the Channel before their claims are heard. The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees has said the proposal would be a “clear breach” of the Refugee Convention. The bill has alarmed politicians and human rights groups in Europe, who fear that it could embolden populist political parties seeking to dismantle the right to asylum.

“This proposed law is despicable and I do fear a snowball effect. As soon as one state tramples on the right to asylum, other states are quick to follow suit,” Damien Carême, a French Green MEP, told openDemocracy.

Read more: Adam Bychawski, Open Democracy,

Updated 9 March 2023: Quakers in Britain: New migration bill is inhumane, Quakers say

Quakers in Britain have described the government’s new migration bill as ‘inhumane’ because it would subject thousands of vulnerable people to destitution, detention and deportation.

The bill would ban people entering the UK via irregular routes from claiming asylum or re-entering in the future. They would be detained on arrival and the home secretary would have a duty to deport them to Rwanda or another country. There are also plans for an annual cap on the number of refugees accepted into the UK.

Quakers in Britain argue that the plans will violate the UK’s duties under international law. Under the Refugee Convention, the UK has a duty to offer sanctuary to people fleeing persecution no matter how many countries they pass through or how they arrive here.

Quakers believe that people fleeing violence, poverty and natural disasters should be treated with compassion, rather than being subjected to further harm.

This bill is another step in the direction of hostility and away from kindness- Paul Parker

Successive UK government policies and legislation have undermined this principle in recent years, such as the Nationality and Borders Act and the Rwanda policy.

The government says that migrants should use ‘safe and legal’ routes to enter the UK, but Quakers and other groups have highlighted the huge lack of options for people seeking sanctuary in this way.

Rooted in their belief that there is ‘that of God’ in everyone, Quakers are committed to working for a world where dignity and rights are upheld regardless of migration or citizenship status.

Quakers in Britain support a network of over one hundred Quaker ‘sanctuary meetings’. These meetings work to build a culture of welcome towards newcomers to Britain, challenge racism in all its forms, and campaign to change the laws on destitution, detention and deportation.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain said: “This bill is another step in the direction of hostility and away from kindness when it comes to UK migration policy. It is inhumane to automatically detain and deport people seeking sanctuary in the UK, simply on the basis of the route they have taken.

“The government should focus on tackling the drivers of forced migration by promoting peace and climate justice around the world and ensuring that people aren’t forced to risk their lives in small boats by expanding safe and legal routes for those seeking sanctuary.”

Write to your MP here

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[QARN has signed this statement] JPTI: Church Leaders from JPIT’s denominations have signed a joint statement expressing opposition to the government’s new ‘Illegal Migration Bill’:

We are appalled by the proposals in the government’s ‘Illegal Migration Bill’ to detain, punish and reject thousands of people seeking safety. They are completely incompatible with our Christian conviction that all human beings are made in the image of God, and are therefore inherently worthy of treatment which honours their dignity. Instead of dignity, these plans will foster discrimination and distrust, and cause immeasurable harm to people already made vulnerable by conflict and persecution. If ever there was a contemporary example of ignoring our neighbour and walking by on the other side, this is it.

Read more:

electronic immigration network: Illegal Migration Bill – A Five Minute Explainer

Written by Gary McIndoe, Latitude Law

I’ve seen a lot of legislation in my more than 25 years practising in the immigration and asylum field, but this Bill really does leave me speechless. It is reactive legislating at its worst – and I remember the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004. It is a ham-fisted attempt to tackle an admittedly concerning problem through a series of pronouncements, threats, assumptions and rules which are blatantly unworkable.

According to the Home Secretary the proposed Act’s ‘novel approach’ to the UK’s human rights and refugee commitments is not something she currently wants to go into in detail. I’m not surprised. She continues, some of the nation’s ‘finest legal minds’ are at work addressing how to shoe-horn these laws into the rights-based architecture of public international law developed – not least by the British – since the end of the Second World War. The prospect of yet further conflict – with the courts, the lawyers representing individuals, with the ECtHR – is plain to see.

The trade-off is the availability of ‘safe and legal routes’ to seeking asylum. How are these going so far? The various Afghan schemes have proved unworkable. Even the Ukrainian family and sponsorship routes – designed with a particularly light touch, so hardly likely to be replicated for other war-torn nations – has faced maladministration and delays in processing. Asking an already-stretched UNHCR to take responsibility for determining eligibility is just pointless – viz the many thousands of Afghan citizens stuck in Pakistan, unable to engage with exhausted UNHCR teams in the country in order to leave for the UK under the Afghan Pathway 2 scheme.

And as well as being substantively bound to fail, we are told safe and legal routes for other nationalities are simply a proposal for the future; how then can they be used as a sop to the introduction of such inequitable rules on admissibility – and I mean admissibility for life?

Read more:

Freemovement: What is in the Illegal Migration Bill?

Page contents

The Illegal Migration Bill was published yesterday. You can access the Bill here and the Explanatory Notes here. While it remains a Bill, the individual provisions are referred to as clauses and once it becomes an Act — as it surely will — they are referred to as sections.

The problem the government faces with this legislation is that an Act of Parliament cannot by itself prevent unlawful migration. Deterrence may or may not be possible. But the decision-making of refugees remains a mystery. Whether the legislation will really deter people from coming to the UK is unclear. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is staking a lot on the decision-making of tens of thousands of individuals of whom he knows basically nothing.

There are two main ways in which the Bill seeks to deter people from coming to the UK unlawfully.

Read more here:

Updated 8 March 2023: Illegal Migration Bill

These documents relate to the Illegal Migration Bill introduced in the House of Commons on 7 March 2023.

Updated 7 March 2023: UNHCR: Statement on UK Asylum Bill

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is profoundly concerned by the asylum bill introduced by the UK Government to the House of Commons today. In its current form, the Bill compels the Home Secretary to deny access to the UK asylum system to those who arrive irregularly. Rather than being provided with protection, these asylum-seekers would instead be subject to detention in the UK, while arrangements are pursued to remove them to another country.

The legislation, if passed, would amount to an asylum ban – extinguishing the right to seek refugee protection in the United Kingdom for those who arrive irregularly, no matter how genuine and compelling their claim may be, and with no consideration of their individual circumstances.

The effect of the bill (in this form) would be to deny protection to many asylum-seekers in need of safety and protection, and even deny them the opportunity to put forward their case. This would be a clear breach of the Refugee Convention and would undermine a longstanding, humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud.

Most people fleeing war and persecution are simply unable to access the required passports and visas. There are no safe and “legal” routes available to them. Denying them access to asylum on this basis undermines the very purpose for which the Refugee Convention was established. The Convention explicitly recognises that refugees may be compelled to enter a country of asylum irregularly. 

Based on the Home Office’s most recently published data, the vast majority of those arriving to the UK in small boats over the Channel would be accepted as refugees were their claims to be determined. Branding refugees as undeserving based on mode of arrival distorts these fundamental facts.

International law does not require that refugees claim asylum in the first country they reach. Returns or transfers to safe third countries may nonetheless be appropriate if certain thresholds are met – in particular, if Refugee Convention rights will be respected there, and the arrangement helps share the responsibility for refugees equitably among nations. The framework in place between EU member states is an example of such an arrangement. Currently, the UK is not part of any such agreement, and its bilateral arrangement with Rwanda fails to meet the necessary international standards. As such, asylum-seekers arriving in the UK irregularly would find themselves in limbo, unable to claim protection in line with the Convention.  

UNHCR shares the UK Government’s concern regarding the number of asylum-seekers resorting to dangerous journeys, not only across the Channel but also elsewhere, as in the Mediterranean. Making the asylum system work is key to tackling this challenge. Fast, fair and efficient case processing, as well as enhanced reception conditions, would accelerate the integration of those found to be refugees and facilitate the swift return of those who have no legal basis to stay. UNHCR has presented the UK Government with concrete and actionable proposals in this regard and welcomes constructive, ongoing efforts to clear the current asylum backlog. UNHCR continues to support the UK Government in strengthening its asylum system and addressing such challenges directly.

UNHCR will also continue to work with the UK Government to expand safe, regular pathways for refugees to reach the UK, including through resettlement. While critical, these remain very limited, and can never substitute for access to asylum.

UNHCR also welcomes the UK’s enhanced dialogue with France and encourages efforts to enhance regional cooperation with its European neighbours to address current challenges. 

We urge the Government, and all MPs and Peers, to reconsider the Bill and instead pursue more humane and practical policy solutions.

Read more: Oral statement to Parliament: Home Secretary statement on the Illegal Immigration Bill

The Home Secretary updated the House of Commons on new legislation to stop the boats.

[…] Mr. Speaker, this bill enables detention of illegal arrivals, without bail or judicial review within the first 28 days of detention, until they can be removed.

It puts a duty on the Home Secretary to remove illegal entrants and will radically narrow the number of challenges and appeals that can suspend removal.

Only those under 18, medically unfit to fly, or at real risk of serious and irreversible harm – an exceedingly high bar – in the country we are removing them to, will be able to delay their removal. Any other claims will be heard remotely, after removal. […]

Updated 6 March 2023: Guardian: Small boats: what is Rishi Sunak’s plan, and how will it work?

The government is expected to unveil legislation on asylum seekers this week. Here’s a guide to what we know so far

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is to announce laws stopping people entering the UK on small boats from claiming asylum. Details on the legislation, which is expected to be published on Tuesday, are scarce.

What do we know about the legislation?

It is expected to make asylum claims from those who travel to the UK on small boats inadmissible. It would see a duty placed on the home secretary, Suella Braverman, to remove “as soon as reasonably practicable” – to Rwanda or a “safe third country” – anyone who arrives on a small boat.

How would it work?

The government appears to believe it has found a way round aspects of the European convention on human rights, which provides the ultimate legal authority for most deportation challenges. The Mail On Sunday reported that a clause in the new bill would apply a “rights brake”, but there are no details as yet on how this would get around the UK’s obligations under the ECHR.

What happens to those who arrive by small boats?

They will be prevented from claiming asylum while in the UK, and there are plans also to ban them from returning once removed. Asylum seekers currently have the right to remain in the country to have their cases heard.

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BBC: Channel migrants face lifetime ban on returning to UK

Channel migrants will be removed from the UK, banned from future re-entry and unable to apply for British citizenship under new legislation.

The slew of proposed measures will apply to anyone arriving on UK shores in a small boat.

Further details are expected to be announced by the government on Tuesday.

The Refugee Council has criticised the plans and says thousands of people will be left “permanently in limbo” as a result.

Read more:

Guardian: Tuesday briefing: 43 ways the Conservatives have tried (and failed) to tackle Channel crossings

In today’s newsletter: As Rishi Sunak unveils new plans to solve the small boats crisis, here’s a guide to dozens of previous initiatives that have fallen short

Updated 25 February 2023: Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner: Streamlined asylum processing: OISC position.

Immigration advisers must be regulated by the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner*.

The Home Office has published its new guidance on making decisions under streamlined asylum processing.

OISC’s position:

While only regulated legal advisers working at Level 2 and above can provide asylum advice to claimants completing the Asylum Claim Questionnaire, you can offer assistance if you are not regulated where this help related to language issues and the technicalities of completing and submitting the forms. Requests for time extensions to complete the forms can also be made be an unregulated person, supporting the claimant.

However, this must not stray into giving immigration or asylum advice. You must be regulated to give this advice.

We have more information on what assistance can be provided by an unregulated person on our website.

*not including regulated barristers, solicitors and legal executives

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Updated 23 February 2023: Refugee Council: What will the Government’s new plan for clearing the backlog mean for people seeking asylum?

Moves to reduce the backlog in asylum cases are welcome, but the Government’s new announcements are not the answer.

Quickly granting refugee status to people from countries with high grant rates should be a positive first step but the process must be well thought-out. After living in worry and uncertainty for months and even years without hearing anything about their claims, it cannot then be fair or reasonable to expect people to complete a lengthy form only in English in a matter of weeks, especially for those who don’t have access to legal advice and don’t speak English.

What has happened?

The Government has announced a new plan that aims to reduce the asylum backlog by sending a questionnaire to around 12,000 people who are from 5 countries with high acceptance rates (Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen). This questionnaire contains complex questions and is written in English, which many of those who are required to provide answers will not be able to understand without assistance.

Recipients will be given just 20 days to complete this form – also giving their responses in English – or risk their entire asylum claim being withdrawn without further investigation.

With new figures today revealing that over 160,000 people were still waiting for an outcome on their initial claim for asylum at the end of December 2022, it is clear that action is needed to reduce this backlog. However, the answer is not yet more bureaucratic hurdles and threats of applications being withdrawn.

Read more:

Home Office: Streamlined asylum processing (v.1)

You will find that much of the content of this document is not available: ‘The information in this section has been removed as it is restricted for internal Home Office use’

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Updated 22 February 2023: Guardian: Home Office to tell refugees to complete questionnaire in English or risk refusal

Exclusive: Claimants will have only 20 days to respond or face rejection

Plans to cut the asylum backlog by sending questionnaires to refugees instead of conducting official interviews will demand that claimants reply in English within 20 working days or risk refusal, a leaked document shows.

The Home Office will on Thursday begin sending out copies of the 11-page document to about 12,000 people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen as part of Rishi Sunak’s plans to cut the “legacy backlog” of 92,000 asylum claims.

The move is meant to speed up the process by which claims are processed so that people can be either given leave to remain in the UK or removed.

But the questionnaire, seen by the Guardian, asks more than 50 complicated questions that it says “must be completed in English” and suggests using “online translation tools” if necessary.

It goes on to say that a failure to return the document within 20 working days “may result in an individual’s asylum claim being withdrawn”.

The deadline has dismayed legal experts who say it places unreasonable demands on vulnerable people who will not be able to seek legal advice on time.

Read more:

BBC: Asylum claims for 12,000 to be considered without face-to-face interview

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31 January 2023 Guardian: Rishi Sunak’s migration plan ‘would have left 45,000 in permanent limbo last year’

Refugee Council warns tens of thousands who crossed Channel to UK in 2022 would have been detained indefinitely under proposals

More than 45,000 people who have crossed the Channel in small boats this year would have been detained indefinitely in a “permanent limbo” under Rishi Sunak’s flagship migration policy, a leading refugee charity has calculated.

The prime minister announced proposals this month to ban anybody who comes to the UK irregularly from applying for asylum and then deporting them as soon as possible. A new immigration bill is expected to be introduced within weeks.

An analysis by the Refugee Council has found that, because of a lack of returns agreements with other countries, 45,237 men, women and children who arrived in 2022 would have been held in detention but would not have been deported.

“They would not be able to be removed, but neither would they be able to progress an asylum application, work or access support from statutory services,” a statement from the group said.

The calculation comes amid reports that the attorney general, Victorias Prentis, has warned Sunak that the proposed bill, one of the government’s priorities, will “never get through the courts” because the prolonged detention of migrants will be immediately challenged.

Sunak said on 4 January the legislation would make sure that “if you come to this country illegally, you are detained and swiftly removed”.

Home Office sources said anybody who crossed the Channel but had passed through another country would be in effect banned from applying for asylum, and their claim would automatically be deemed inadmissible.

However, according to the Refugee Council analysis, if ministers implemented this policy without additional returns agreements in place – and if the number of people making the crossing in small boats remained the same as in 2022 – then it would leave 45,237 people (98.9% of those making the crossing) in “a permanent limbo”.

The figure is based on the number of people the Home Office has been able to secure returns agreements for as part of the inadmissibility process introduced on 31 December 2020.

Between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2022, the Home Office issued 12,286 notices of intent, where they believed someone’s claim may be inadmissible.

However, up to 30 September only 83 inadmissibility decisions, which can only be made once the Home Office has an agreement with a third country for the removal of the individual concerned, had been issued – just 0.7% of cases.

“Applying that same success rate to all those who crossed the Channel in 2022 would mean that 309 people were removed,” the charity’s analysis said. “Even if an additional 200 people were removed as a result of the Rwanda scheme becoming operational, this would still leave 98.9% – 45,237 people – unable to be removed.”