Earlier this month, David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration reported that the Home Office may be failing to share vital details relating to fraudulent documents used in immigration applications with the Passport Office.
According to the report, the records kept by the Home Office neither confirm nor categorically deny that concerns regarding fraudulent documents are being properly referred to the Passport Office, nor that those concerns are followed up by the Home Office. Even more worryingly, it was reported that the Passport Office is not under a duty to confirm receipt of cases referred for alleged fraud and deception.
In particular, concerns were raised in respect of documentary evidence submitted to the Home Office by individuals wishing to obtain a Certificate of Entitlement confirming their Right of Abode in the UK. The Immigration Act 1971 states that having a Right of Abode means that a person is “free to live in, and come and go into and from, the United Kingdom without let or hindrance”. In the UK, a Right of Abode is automatically afforded to British citizens and may be held by certain Commonwealth citizens. In the case of the latter, an application would need to be submitted to the Home Office with supporting documentation.
According to Home Office data, Right of Abode applications have generally continued with a downward trend since 2005 and the refusal rate between 2016-17 and 2018-19 was just 13%. However, in a sample of 50 refusals between 1 June 2018 and 31 May 2019, it was found that 30 applicants had no valid UK immigration status when the application was decided and that only 13 of some 32 cases were referred for enforcement action.
In summary, David Bolt said that the evidence provided for this inspection showed that up-to-date guidance and standard procedures were in place and that caseworkers appeared committed to their work. However, the “Home Office needed to improve its record keeping and quality assurance in order to prove that this was indeed the case and to demonstrate that right of abode work fully supports other Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System functions”. It is therefore now up to the Home Office to review the six recommendations and undertake further action to ensure that its concerns, and particularly in regard to fraudulent documents, are properly referred and followed up.
Gherson are specialist immigration advisors with a wealth of experience dealing with all types of UK immigration and British nationality matters, Right of Abode applications and applications to the Passport Office. If you have any questions or queries relating to your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
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