Home Office needs to get a grip
Solicitors acting for Dr Eva Holmberg, the academic told to leave the country when Home Office officials bungled scores of post-Brexit residency applications, say untold numbers of people could be preparing to leave the UK unnecessarily.
Arlingsworth Solicitors, which has previously intervened on behalf of EU nationals and their non-EU family members caught up in unlawful and erroneous decisions made by the Home Office, said it was “not the first time something like this has happened”.
“These blunders are occurring more frequently. Something needs to be done within the Home Office and quickly,” said Christopher Hussey, a member of Arlingsworth specialist immigration and human rights team, based in Brighton, who successfully challenged Dr Holmberg’s deportation and went on to secure her right to remain in the UK.
Approximately 100 people whose residency applications were similarly rejected, received letters from the Home Office this week, threatening them with detention if they did not leave within a month. The government retracted the letters and apologised, but still left a question mark over their immigration status.
“These people’s lives are being turned upside down,” said Mr Hussey. “There’s the initial shock of being told you are being detained and deported, then a lot of anger and a lot of frustration. Not everyone has the resources to challenge Home Office decisions and our fear is that there are a lot of people who are making plans to leave when they don’t have to. We want to reach out to them.”
The incident came in the same week that Britain saw its first fall in net migration for three years, driven by more EU citizens leaving the country.
Rahil Chaudhari, a senior solicitor at Arlingsworth, who is a leading authority on immigration and human rights law and has over 20 years of experience in this field said there was growing unease.
“Our advice to European citizens who have been living in the UK for five years exercising their treaty rights is to obtain a permanent residence card now. Do not wait for the government to deliver on its promises because it clearly says one thing and then does another. A permanent residence card will give you the equivalent of settled status and in turn it will open the door to British nationality.”
But he also warned against using cut-priced services offering to short-cut the application process:
“Time and time again we have clients come to us who have been refused by the Home Office after their application has been botched by some cheap and nasty visa agency service.”
Arlingsworth is now looking to set up a support and lobbying group to counter the “myths and poor advice” for EU nationals confused by their post-Brexit status and what they need to do to remain in the UK.
“We’ve seen a lot of residency applications that have been handled disastrously,” he said. “There are a lot of vulnerable people out there that need clear and expert guidance.”
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Rahil Chaudhari is a Senior Solicitor at Arlingsworth Solicitors. Rahil secured an LLM at University College London and then went on to train and work at some of the most prestigious law firms in the City before joining Arlingsworth in 2005. Rahil is a highly experienced and versatile solicitor and has practiced in the fields of immigration, family, commercial, employment and private client. He specialises in immigration and human rights law and now has over 20 years of experience in this particular field. He has become a leading authority on this area of the law and is regularly invited to deliver talks and training in around the country and internationally. Rahil’s client base spans all sectors from multinational companies to private individuals. Rahil always works tirelessly to secure successful results for his clients and he is driven by providing exceptionally high standards of client care.
Christopher Hussey joined Arlingsworth as a trainee solicitor after graduating from the University of Warwick and completing his legal qualifications. Christopher has a wealth of experience in dealing with various areas of the law such as: immigration and human rights, commercial, family, litigation and private client. Christopher has developed a reputation for delivering success and offering his clients a high standard of service; he has been described by leading counsel as “highly capable” as well as “a conscientious solicitor who clients warm to”.