In March 2021, the Home Office published a “New Plan for Immigration” targeted for asylum seekers entering the UK illegally. The plan identified ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments’ for asylum seekers entering the UK.
Asylum seekers entering the UK by 'safe and legal means' will benefit from:
Punishments for illegal entrants
Asylum seekers entering the UK illegally to claim asylum or travelling through a “safe third country” such as France will receive fewer rights..
Current rules allow the Home Office to consider claims from asylum seekers who have travelled through safe countries the proposed new rules envisage that “anyone who arrives the UK illegally – where they could reasonably have claimed asylum in another safe country – will be considered inadmissible to the asylum system, consistent with the Refugee Convention”.
There will be a “rebuttable presumption” that people can be returned to EU and other developed countries, and sections 77 and 78 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 amended so that people can be removed despite having a pending asylum claim or appeal.
Asylum seekers entering the UK illegally will be eligible to fewer rights, such as:
1) Temporary Admission
Illegal entrants to the UK will be punished with a new “temporary protection status” instead of refugee status. This is for people with inadmissible claims, and who cannot be returned, and:
Temporary protection will be a grant of permission to remain in the UK for no longer than 30 months, with no recourse to public funds and “restricted” family reunion rights. They would also be “regularly reassessed for removal from the UK” (a policy that already exists).
2) Increase in the sentence for illegal entry
The current sentence for illegal entry is six months, however there may be an increase to the maximum sentence for entering the UK illegally in the future The separate “facilitation” offence of assisting unlawful immigration will now attract a maximum of life in prison, up from 14 years (in reality the average sentence handed down is three and a bit years).
A range of other measures will affect all asylum seekers, not just those said to have “jumped the queue”.
These ‘punishments’ are apotential breach of Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, which statesthat “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of Article.
Furthermore the Home Secretary’s approach was not compliant with the landmark case of R v Uxbridge Magistrates Court (ex parteAdimi) Imm AR 560 where Lord Justice Simon Brown held that refugees did not have to claim asylum in countries through which they pass to reach safety in order to be protected by Article 31.
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“This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.”