A group of around twenty MPs and a member of the House of Lords are to establish separate pressure groups to persuade the Home Office to stop deporting highly skilled migrants using paragraph 322(5) of the Immigration Rules (“the Rules”).
Applications by Tier 1 (General) Migrants for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) are being refused due to allegations of discrepancies in their taxes. Usually this arises from material differences between the earnings declared to the Home Office as part of an application for leave to remain in the UK and to HMRC as part of their tax returns during the same period. According to the support group Highly Skilled Migrants at least 1,000 highly skilled migrants are wrongly facing deportation for making minor amendments to their tax records, even though HMRC has not fined or pursued criminal cases against them.
This use of paragraph 322(5) of the Rules to refuse an ILR application is troubling as the paragraph was designed to tackle terrorism and those judged to be a threat to national security. Errors in tax returns or failure to declare earnings were not supposed to be caught out under this provision. By relying on paragraph 322(5), as opposed to 322(2), of the Rules, the Home Office appears to be avoiding the need to prove the applicant’s dishonest intent to deceive the Home Office or HMRC.
Calling the use of paragraph 322(5) “draconian”, Lord Dick Taverne QC has stated that “there is no justification and no humanity” in the Home Office’s use of the paragraph. Whilst Steve Reed MP, who is setting up the group of MPs, has stated, “it’s now clear the government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy goes far wider than the Windrush scandal”.
The controversial paragraph comes with devastating consequences, as migrants immediately become ineligible for any other UK visa and many are given just fourteen days to leave the UK. In addition, people deported under this terrorism-associated paragraph will have a ‘black mark’ on their immigration history and are likely to struggle to ever get a visa to visit or work anywhere else in the world.
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