Rwanda Immigration Removals – What Are Your Immigration Appeal and Judicial Review Rights? banner


Rwanda Immigration Removals – What Are Your Immigration Appeal and Judicial Review Rights?

  • Posted on

At a time when so many in the UK are desperate, despite the travel chaos at UK airports, to leave the UK to go on their annual holidays, there was one flight with no passengers. Unsurprisingly, the one way trip to Rwanda did not appeal to UK asylum seekers and, with the intervention of the European court, the first planned flight did not go ahead. Our immigration solicitors look at where the European court decision leaves refugees and asylum seekers and answers your questions on your appeal rights if you are told that you meet the criteria for transfer to Rwanda and you receive an immigration removals notice.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For advice on immigration law and your asylum and appeal rights call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The Rwanda policy

The Rwanda asylum plan is intended to be a five year trial of a scheme to transfer UK asylum seekers to Rwanda if:

  • The asylum seeker entered the UK under the government classification of ‘non-legal’ asylum seeker because of the manner of entry into the UK and
  • The asylum seeker meets the eligibility criteria for participation in the scheme

If an asylum seeker is sent to Rwanda for their asylum claim to be processed the key point is that it is a one way trip because after an asylum seeker’s claim has been processed the claimant will have these options:

  • The grant of refugee status in Rwanda
  • Apply to settle in Rwanda
  • Apply for asylum in a safe third country

These options do not include a return flight to the UK for the majority of claimants. That is why it is essential that asylum seekers understand the UK immigration removal policy, judicial review options and their appeal rights.

If an asylum claim is refused by the authorities in Rwanda, then it is up to the Rwandan government to return an asylum seeker to their home country.

Which asylum seekers could be sent to Rwanda?

The UK government  policy is said to be intended to act as a deterrent against asylum seekers arriving in the UK through what the government refers to as "illegal, dangerous or unnecessary methods". For example, arriving via a small boat across the English Chanel using the services of people smugglers or hidden in a lorry.

There is no limit on the numbers or the nationalities of asylum seekers that could potentially be sent to Rwanda but, so far, the government has targeted asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and some other countries. The policy has made charities working with refugees to the UK uncomfortable when, in comparison, so much has been done to help refugees from the war in Ukraine and Hong Kong nationals with British national (overseas) status who want to leave Hong Kong because of the political situation there.

Therefore, if you are an asylum seeker, who entered the UK after the 1 January 2022, by an illegal, dangerous or in the government‘s words ‘’unnecessary’’ method, you are at risk of being placed on the Rwandan scheme, whether or not you are being accommodated in an immigration removal centre.

Appealing a decision to send an asylum seeker to Rwanda

It is crucial to understand judicial review and appeal rights as once an asylum seeker is in Rwanda the prospects of a successful return to the UK to pursue an asylum claim in the UK will hinge on the judicial review on the lawfulness of the government policy to send UK asylum claimants to Rwanda. That judicial review hearing will not take place until July 2022.

The government has said that pending the July 2022 judicial review hearing it remains committed to sending ‘’appropriate’’ asylum seekers to Rwanda for their asylum claims to be processed there. At present, there are two types of challenge to the scheme:

  • A general challenge over the legality of the government scheme – this is a judicial review application that will not be determined until July 2022
  • Individual challenges by asylum seekers who have been told that they will be sent to Rwanda and their asylum claim will be processed there

The UK court was asked to rule that it was not lawful to send asylum seekers to Rwanda until the outcome of the judicial review proceedings into the overall legality of the controversial scheme. The application was refused by the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. However, the European Court of Human Rights, has said flights to Rwanda should not go ahead until the outcome of the judicial review proceedings is known. The UK government  has said it is still looking to progress departures to Rwanda although the combination of the European court ruling and successful individual challenges by asylum seekers meant the inaugural flight to Rwanda was cancelled.

Notice of intent to remove to Rwanda

The first step in the process of removal to Rwanda is for the Home Office to send a notice of intent to alert an asylum seeker to the planned immigration removal and inclusion on the scheme.

If you get a notice, it is best to talk to an immigration solicitor straight away about the immigration removal. Ignoring the notice won't make it go away. For urgent asylum and immigration legal advice call us on 0203 959 9123.

There are time limits to respond to the notice so it is not in your interests to delay.

The time limits are:

  • 7 days – if you are being held in an immigration removal centre
  • 14 days – if you are not being held in an immigration removal centre

It may be possible to extend the deadline to reply to the Home Office but you need to make a request for an extension within the 7 or 14 day time frame.

An immigration solicitor can help you with a request for a short extension and with your detailed response to the Home Office plan to send you to Rwanda for your asylum claim to be processed there.

Your immigration lawyer can also discuss with you the option of making representations about your inclusion in the scheme or sending a pre action protocol letter and then starting an application for a judicial review of the decision to include you on the scheme.

It may also be necessary to apply for an injunction order so that if the UK pursue their plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, without waiting for the outcome of the judicial review proceedings to be heard in July  2022 on the legality of the scheme,  the Home Office is prevented from enabling your removal to Rwanda.

Objecting to a transfer to Rwanda

Immigration solicitors can advise on how best to challenge your enrolment on the Rwanda scheme. That will involve talking to you to understand how you travelled to the UK and why you felt forced to enter the UK in the way you did. For example, our immigration lawyers may need to discuss why you did not stop in the first ‘safe country’ that you came to after leaving your home country to seek asylum in the UK.

It is important to talk to you and get as much information as possible about your personal circumstances because they may be the key to your successfully challenge the decision to place you on the scheme. For example, the following factors may be relevant:

  • Your potential human rights claims
  • Any particular susceptibilities that would make it particularly hard for you if you were transferred to Rwanda. For example, because of your nationality or sexual orientation or gender identity
  • If you are vulnerable to exploitation. For example, because you are a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery
  • Any health issues that you are experiencing. For example, you may be concerned about available treatment for a mental health or physical condition if you were to be transferred to Rwanda

The discussions may result in the notice being challenged by:

  • Representations to the Home Office
  • Pre action letter and then the start of judicial review proceedings
  • Human rights claim

When you have battled to get to the UK to claim the safety of asylum it can feel overwhelming to be told that you have been selected to go to Rwanda and for your asylum claim to be processed in a country that you know little about, save for general information about the historical genocide that took place in Rwanda. That’s why it’s best to have a specialist asylum lawyer on your side to help you challenge the Home Office decision making.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For advice on asylum claims and help with any aspect of immigration law call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

    Get in touch

    Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.