Help For Students Deported Illegally From The UK
Are you one of the thousands of students deported from the UK illegally by the Home Office in 2014? If so, you may be entitled, not only to re-entry into the UK, but compensation for any financial damage you suffered as a result of being deported.
Background to the deportations
The extraordinary situation that has led to the deportation of thousands of students began on 10th February 2014. That evening, BBC Panorama broadcast a programme showing a language school, run by an American firm ETS in east London which provided fraudulent language tests. The school ran government approved exams for Tier 4 student visa applicants. One of the eligibility requirements for obtaining a UK student visa is a proven knowledge of written and spoken English.
But rather than treat the east London language school as an isolated entity, the Home Office stated that everyone who had taken a Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) test, written and conducted by ETS, had committed fraud.
Former Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May, took the decision to revoke the Sponsorship Licences of around 60 educational institutions, and detain and remove tens of thousands of international students who had obtained the TOEIC certificate in the past.
No one knows for certain how many students were ripped away from their studies, subject to dawn raids, accused of cheating, then detained and deported; all without trial.
Some figures suggest up to 48,000, mainly Indian nationals were sent home.
The 2016 court verdict
In March 2016, the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), in a test case brought by two students who had taken an English language test set by ETS, ruled that the Home Office used unscientific “hearsay” to establish that the students had cheated on their exams.
The tribunal ruling said, “Apart from the limited hearsay evidence, there was no evidence from the protagonist in this saga, the ETS organisation. The Secretary of State has not discharged the legal burden of establishing that either appellant procured his [English language] certificate by dishonesty.”
The tribunal also heard that the Home Office was “entirely reliant” on information from ETS, which did not present any witnesses at the hearing and was subject to a “litany of criticism” by an independent voice recognition expert.
Call for Parliamentary investigation into the student deportations
Following the verdict handed down by the Tribunal, the National Union of Students (NUS) called for an independent inquiry into the deportations.
NUS international students’ officer, Mostafa Rajaai, described to the Independent in April 2016 how countless students have had their lives “disrupted, lost their life savings, and were then removed from the UK” without the degrees they had spent time and money studying for.
He said, “The time has come for the Home Office to explain why international students have faced such shocking treatment. These students will never get back the years of their lives they wasted, but they still deserve answers about why they were treated so unfairly.”
What can students who were affected by the deportations do?
Following the ruling from the Tribunal, thousands of students who were wrongfully deported and/or detained may have the right to come back to the UK and claim compensation.
Speaking to the Hindu newspaper, one student who was deported as a result of the original investigation said, "I have lost three years of time, effort, money, education, my whole life. I honour the court. We have not waged war on the British government, but only against the injustice of the Home Office decision. Now I look forward to the Home Office reversing the decision in my case.
"I want them to grant me a work permit so that I may start working, as I am already registered as a social worker."
The Immigration Enforcement Complaints Procedure states:
‘If you can show that you have suffered financial loss as a direct result of an error we have made, you may be able to claim reimbursement of the costs you have incurred. We will only consider reimbursing you for these costs if they were reasonable, unavoidable and a direct consequence of our actions – and you will need to provide evidence such as original receipts.
In exceptional circumstances not involving financial loss, we will consider whether a consolatory payment may be appropriate.’
If you were detained prior to deportation, you may also be able to claim compensation for the fact your detention may have been illegal.
The most important first step is to contact an experienced Immigration solicitor who can assist you with making a claim and either re-instating your Tier 4 student visa or ensuring you are granted entry into the UK.
There is no question that the Home Office’s deportation of thousands of students and closure of many educational institutes was draconian and unnecessary. Individuals who suffered financial loss, humiliation and the shattering of their educational dreams deserve the right to be allowed back into the country to complete their studies and be compensated financially for any loss they suffered.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in the UK. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available. If you are one of the wrongly deported students, forced to leave the UK in 2014, please contact us today so we can assist you.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.