Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain? Casework Inspector Recommends Changes To The Home Office Process
If you are waiting for your ILR or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK case to be decided, the last thing you want is for the issue to drag on for months or even years. In a recent report by David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, samples of 240 settlement cases were reviewed alongside focus groups and interviews at the settlement casework centre in Liverpool. The findings found that in most circumstances, settlement cases are handled efficiently and effectively and in accordance with the Immigration Rules. However, a small number of cases left serious cause for concern.
Fast fact: The term ‘Settlement’ describes the right to stay permanently in the UK. It is referred to as Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) if granted overseas or at port, and ILR if granted in the UK.
What the Report Considered
The inspection was designed to consider the efficiency and effectiveness of the management and processing of settlement applications by the Home Office. It examined whether:
- applications were processed in accordance with Home Office service standards
- mandatory checks were carried out in all cases and appropriate action taken as a result
- settlement decisions were made in accordance with the Immigration Rules and Home Office guidance
- the handling of postal applications and Premium Service Centre applications were handled correctly, and
- appropriate action was taken where individuals were refused settlement
Fast fact: Settled persons are free to live, work and study in the UK without any restrictions. They can access public funds, including welfare and housing benefits. After a qualifying period, they have the right to apply for naturalisation, and any children born in the UK to a settled person are automatically British.
The Findings of the Report
Although the report found that most cases were handled skilfully, findings did point to a number of areas that required attention. These included:
- Evidence that the Immigration Rules and guidance had not been correctly applied in a small number of cases
- Quite a few examples of record keeping standards falling below par
- Postal applications, including straightforward cases, were taking up to six months to process
Fast fact: If you believe an error has been made in fact or law then you can apply for an Administrative Review of the decision pertaining to your settlement. An administrative review is free of charge; however, you must submit your application for review within 28 days of receiving a decision on your case.
The Chief Inspector’s Recommendations
The Chief Inspector called for the introduction of shorter service standards to deal with straightforward applications, and for the better use of ‘targeted pre-allocation sifting’ of applications to help identify additional enquiries or verification checks are required as early as possible.
In addition, the Chief Inspector made a further ten recommendations:
- a mechanism to prevent unclear and inaccurate refusal notices from being issued to Tier 2 applicants refused settlement should be introduced
- ensure that uncorroborated evidence of domestic abuse relayed by agencies should not be given disproportionate weight and be verified where possible
- encourage caseworkers to interview domestic violence applicants where supporting evidence does not allow them to confidently assess credibility
- keep the percentage of refusals and timeliness of decisions in Domestic Violence settlement cases under review and ensure that performance measures take full account of the risk of fraudulent claims
- amend the Settlement Protection consideration minute template and require caseworkers to: note the reasons why protection was granted originally
- assess whether changes in personal circumstances could impact the need for continuing protection
- ensure there is sufficient caseworker resource to consider ILR revocation referrals in a timely fashion
- ensure appropriate action is taken to in all ILR refusals, and
- provide additional training for caseworkers in complex decision cases
Fast fact: If you believe the UK Border Agency acted unlawfully when making the decision to deny you ILR or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK, then you can apply to the Court for judicial review. judicial review can only be brought after all other alternative remedies have been exhausted and within three months of the original decision. Experienced legal advice is imperative, as the law of judicial review is complex.
The Home Office has accepted 11 out of the 12 recommendations made in the report and has stated it will review service standards in this area.
If you believe that your ILR or Indefinite Leave to Enter decision has been unreasonably delayed or refused, then call our London office on 0207 936 9960 to talk to one of our Immigration solicitors. OTS has a strong reputation for being one of the best Immigration law firms in London and has years of experience managing both administrative and judicial review cases. We look forward to hearing more about how we can assist you with your Immigration concerns.