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ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights)

Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights were made part of UK law when the UK passed the Human Rights Act 1998.

ECJ (European Court of Justice)

The international court in The Hague hearing cases about violations of European law.

ECoHR (European Court of Human Rights)

The international court in Strasbourg hearing cases against states with regard to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

EEA (European Economic Area)

Established on 1 January 1994. It includes the countries of the EU (European Union) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

EEA family permit

A form of entry clearance issued to the non-EEA family members of EEA nationals coming to the UK to exercise their rights of free movement.

ELR (Exceptional Leave to Remain)

The old name for Discretionary Leave.

Entry clearance

Permission to enter the UK obtained in advance of coming to the UK. Entry clearance takes two forms; "visas" (for visa nationals) and "entry certificates" (for non-visa nationals).

Entry Clearance Officer (ECO)

Official at British Embassies and consular posts dealing with applications for entry clearance.

EU (European Union)

Member states of the European Union are: Austria; Bulgaria; Belgium; Cyprus; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Republic of Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; The Netherlands; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; and the United Kingdom.

Family Permit

A permit given to the non-EU family or extended family member of an EU national exercising or planning to exercise rights of free movement in the UK. The family permit is issued by UK consulates and embassies, and is similar to entry clearance.

FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The UK Ministry dealing with foreign affairs. It runs UK entry clearance (visa) operations abroad, ‘UKvisas’ jointly with the Home Office.

High Court

The name for the national court in the UK. Appeals from this court go the Court of Appeal and House of Lords.

Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

A category of immigration application under the immigration rules that allows highly skilled people to come to the UK to work for UK employers and also in self-employment.

Home Office

Ministry of the UK government that oversees the handling of all nationality, immigration and asylum applications and enforcement and developing policy in these areas of law.

Home Secretary

The UK government minister responsible for the Home Office and thus having responsibility for immigration and nationality.

House of Lords (HL)

When lawyers talk about the House of Lords they are usually referring to the highest level of court in the UK. In fact this is just one part of the House of Lords: the House of Lords as a whole is part of the UK parliament, the UK’s legislature. The UK parliament is divided into the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Human Rights

In UK law this will most often be a reference to rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Humanitarian Protection

The immigration status given to people who do not qualify for recognition as a refugee but cannot return to their country of origin because of the risk of a breach of their human rights. ‘Humanitarian protection’ is the UK’s expression of the European Union (EU) category of ‘subsidiary protection’.

Illegal Entrant

The Home Office identifies a person as an illegal entrant both where they have avoided immigration control on entering the UK, or where they used false documents or other deception to enter the UK.

Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006

UK law implementing the European Union (EU) law free movement provisions.

Immigration Act 1971

A UK law (Act of parliament). This law has been updated many times, by subsequent laws, but is still the basis of UK immigration powers.

Immigration Judge

The person who decides immigration appeals in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT). Previously called an adjudicator.

Immigration Officer

Officials dealing with immigration at UK ports and with enforcement (criminal offences connected with immigration law, removal and deportation).

Immigration Rules

The rules that set out the different categories of application to come to, or stay in, the UK. Issued as a paper in the UK parliament, they are also called HC395, short for ‘House of Commons 395’. Changes to the rules are issued as ‘Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules’.

IND (Immigration and Nationality Directorate)

The old name for what, since 1 April 2007, has been called the Border and Immigration Agency, the department of the Home Office responsible for dealing with immigration and nationality.

Indefinite Leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom without time restrictions. A person with indefinite leave can also be described as ‘settled’ or ‘having settlement’ in the UK.

Judicial Review

The means by which a person can challenge a decision made by a public authority where there is no right of appeal against the decision or no alternative remedy.

Leave to Enter

Permission given by immigration officials at the port of entry to enter the United Kingdom in a particular immigration category, for a limited period, sometimes with conditions. In most cases, entry clearance given before travelling also serves as leave to enter, but there are circumstances in which an immigration officer can refuse leave to enter even though a person has entry clearance.

Leave to Remain

Permission given by the Home Office to remain in the UK. It may be limited or indefinite leave, sometimes with conditions.

Limited Leave

This is leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for a specified period of time. Conditions may be attached.

Managed Migration

A part of the Border and Immigration Agency, previously called the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) dealing with all forms of business and family immigration. The term is also used by the Home Office to describe its policies on immigration matters other than asylum.


The process whereby adults who are not British may apply for British citizenship.

Ordinary Residence

The country in which a person is normally living for the time being. If a person is not legally in a country, that period does not count as ordinary residence. It is possible to be ordinarily resident in the UK without being settled here. For example, a worker or student may be ordinarily resident in the UK.


An overstayer is someone who remains in the United Kingdom beyond the period of the leave they have been granted.


The previous term for those with a right of abode, used until 1983.

Permanent Residence

EEA nationals exercising their right of free movement in the UK and their family and extended family members acquire permanent residence after five years. This is the equivalent of having indefinite leave to remain in the UK for EEA nationals.


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For advice on immigration, nationality, extradition or human rights, please contact us now.

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