Our Director and Immigration Specialist Kirin Abbas featured in last weeks Nottingham Professional Services Article, ‘Why Nottingham?’

Provided by Nottingham Professional Services

Q1: When Did You Start to Work in Nottingham?

I commenced my legal career in April 2000 with Berryman Solicitors (now Shakespeare Martineau) as an immigration law paralegal. At the time I had just completed my Masters in International Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and was looking to start the Legal Practice Course at Nottingham Law School, where I am now a visiting lecturer in European Law. Following an MBO of the immigration department at Berryman, my co-director Thal and I set up Paragon Law in 2003 which to this day remains a niche immigration law firm.

Q2: What Attracted You to The City?

A number of factors. Two great universities to continue my legal studies, close family members who live here and a close network of friends from university who had also decided to stay. The niche area of law that I wanted to pursue my career in was immigration law and as is the case to some extent even today, the main law firms and NGO’s that work in this area are based in London, a city which for me is a nice place to visit but not work. I had visions of commuting on the yellow line for the rest of my life and therefore I was lucky that the role at Berryman came at the right time. Nottingham for me at that time was very much like London but condensed into a smaller place. Nice restaurants, good destination place for shopping, a vibrant and diverse student city…………..

If you would like to read more please click the link below, and don’t forget to share it on Social Media.

Article prepared by Karen Rimmer

The Report

On the 31st December 2019, the House of Commons library published its briefing paper into the deportation of foreign national offenders[1]. The report provides a useful overview of the law relating to deportation and how it has evolved over time. It ends with a paragraph which scrutinises and indeed highlights criticism over the Home Office processes relating to deportations. Specifically, comments on how the Home Affairs Committee has criticised the Home Office’s failure to progress deportations properly.

The Process

The process of deportation begins once a conviction is received, which attracts a custodial sentence. Where that sentence is over 12 months, for non-EEA nationals the foreign national offender (FNO) is notified that their conviction has triggered automatic deportation proceedings, known as a “one-stop notice”. For sentences of over two years in the case of EEA nationals they are notified that they have become liable to deportation, and, in both cases, they are asked to provide reasons why they should not be deported.

After a written reply is received to that letter, along with evidence of the reasons given, the Home Office then apparently goes on to investigate the claims made and thereafter consider whether the deportation process should proceed. The stark reality for the FNO is that they will likely not then hear any more about it until the last calendar month of their custodial sentence when a (usually negative) decision will be received, either with or without the right of appeal attached to it. It is very rare for the Home Office to ask a non-represented person for further information or explanation.

Immigration practitioners will usually be aware that, in many cases, that period of silence does not result in the investigative processes that are supposed to take place at all. Quite the opposite, and, at the end of this stage of the deportation process, negative decisions that are subsequently received will be full of copy and paste errors, covering everything from the wrong country of origin[2], to the names of children not associated to the case and not known to the FNO, which have been inserted into decisions. This happens in all areas of immigration law, not just in deportations. The Home Office uses standard template letters and it has been known that they have not even taken out the “type text here” field before sending out the decision to the FNO, contrary in some cases to the principles of anxious scrutiny[3].

The Result

It is also clear that the Home Office routinely does not properly consider the evidence sent with the written reply to the one-stop notices as decisions will make findings on a case without the consideration of evidence put before the decision-maker, that evidence directly contradicting the findings made. 

The result of improper consideration of cases, is of course that those decisions subsequently become appealable and, in over half of the cases before the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First tier Tribunal, are successful. Such outcomes of course bear an impact on the government’s targets. However, it is important to take note of the fact that not all of those Appellants will have had access to a knowledgeable, fully trained and accredited legal advisor. Perhaps due to the changes to the way in which legal aid is administered, they could not afford access to justice. Those success figures could therefore have been much higher.

Deport First, Appeal Later

The “deport first, appeal later[4] regime is never far away from Home Office decision makers’ thoughts. However, since that practice was largely stopped by the decision of R (on the application of Kiarie) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent)  [2017] UKSC 42[5], it is replaced with the temptation of a “make a poor decision first, and justify it at an appeal later” mentality[6].

Major fallouts result from success government failure to monitor its ever-tightening vicelike grip on immigration, and particularly deportation, notwithstanding the consequences for ordinary people.

It is perfectly possible that, once the UK leaves the EU, without the regulatory impact the EU membership brings, further scandals on the scale of Windrush[7] will follow. The foreseeable impact of Brexit is that it is always going to be open to the government to push through yet another Bill for changes to the Immigration Rules on a whim, which might reasonably include enhanced powers for deportation.

FNOs carry a particular type of marginalised political subjectivity. Prison punishes the behaviour, then immigration detention and deportation punishes presence and being.

Because of the political weight it carries, deportation of FNOs will always be top of the political agenda in an effort to vote-boost, and so ever higher target figures are publicised, with the decision-making process being undertaken swiftly to cope with demand. It is that haste that leads to poor decision making and the subsequent barriers to removal by way of immigration appeals.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

It is important to remind the Home Secretary that two wrongs do not make a right. Human rights are just that: human, and even those people who have committed crimes are still human. They still deserve to experience a basic level of human decency when dealing with their cases, in order to allow them to facilitate whatever changes are needed to live a good, law-abiding life in future.

If you, or a family member are facing the prospect of deportation action, then it is important to act promptly. Obtaining sound legal advice early, as soon as notice of liability to deportation is received, can help to establish key legal arguments that might prevent deportation action being taken at all.

[1] https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8062

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/31/home-office-cites-iraq-in-copy-and-paste-refusal-letter-to-jamaican-man

[3] In practice, https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/478cc1a82.pdf ; https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2019/673.html, para 181

[4] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/537244/Immigration_Act_-_Part_4_-_Appeals.pdf

[5] https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2016-0009.html

[6] https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2016/1307.html

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/16/windrush-scandal-the-long-betrayal-archived-documents-david-olusoga

Data released last week by the Migration Observatory suggests that decisions on asylum applications are taking “substantially” longer than they were five years ago.

The analysis, which is published in the new Migration Observatory briefing Migration to the UK: Asylum and resettled refugees, shows a sharp decrease in the number of claims decided within 6 months, from a recent peak of 80% in the second quarter of 2014, to just 25% in the last quarter of 2018. 

The change precedes a Home Office decision earlier this year to drop its six-month target to make an initial decision on most claims.

Dr Peter Walsh, a researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, and author of the briefing said: 

“A few years ago, a solid majority of asylum seekers got an initial decision within 6 months, but now it’s only one in four. This of course is just the first stage of the asylum process, and after you factor in appeals, the whole process can take years for many applicants.

“There is no single explanation for the falling share of decisions taken in 6 months. Factors that could have played a role include changes to policy and management, the complexity of the cases the Home Office receives, and of course budget constraints.”

Dr Sue Conlan, a senior immigration adviser at Paragon law, said: 

 “The delays at the Home Office are unacceptable and place an intolerable burden on people in need of protection in the UK.  The Home Office is not allocating their resources depending upon how long a person has been in the asylum process but instead takes into account their nationality and whether they came through another EU country.  It is difficult for lawyers to explain the discrimination and even harder for people to have any control over their lives”.

Brexit may still dominate the news agenda but there is other controversial legislation out there which impacts many landlords across the UK, it is called, ‘Right To Rent’.

On return from your holidays you may have battled with the ePassport gates a little but ultimately it has improved those dreaded queues significantly.

Well, that improvement of ‘flow’ was in mind for many more people, not just EU citizens, when back on 20th May 2019, visitors from Australian, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States were also able to enter the UK via ePassport gates using biometric passports.

Known as ‘B5JSSK nationals’ they have been automatically granted 6 months’ Leave to Enter as a visitor upon passing through. The scheme was introduced with a view to improving the flow of passengers at busy ports as well as attracting more visitors from these countries.1

Significantly, B5JSSK nationals who use the ePassport gates are granted Leave to Enter without any stamp in their passport or any written confirmation of the date their leave was granted or is due to expire….

The impact on Landlords

Now, for landlords, this has posed significant problems when attempting to conduct right to rent checks on B5JSSK nationals so what DO landlords check to establish a tenant’s right to rent?

The Home Office recently updated its guidance to try and address this issue.

In ‘A short guide on right to rent’, the Home Office advises that landlords can establish a B5JSSK national’s right to rent by checking their passport, together with evidence of the date they last travelled to or entered the UK.

This evidence might be a boarding pass, an airline, rail or boat ticket, a booking confirmation, or ‘any other documentary evidence which establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.’

The Home Office guidance also confirms that although visitors only have six months’ leave, landlords who have conducted these Right to Rent checks correctly will obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for 12 months from the date of the check.

The Home Office advises that landlords need only conduct a follow up check prior to the end that 12- month period.

The issues for Landlords – a risk worth taking?

The updated guidance leaves plenty of issues unresolved.

One of the most prominent issues for landlords is that the guidance itself ‘has no legal standing’, yet it contradicts the legally-binding Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice lists the documents that can be relied upon in establishing a right to rent, but boarding passes, flight confirmations, or the suggested alternatives are NOT on the list.

Therefore, landlords who accept boarding passes or alternatives are having to rely on non-binding guidance to conduct checks that are unlawful under the current Code of Practice.

The RLA, which represents Residential landlords, argues that the guidance cannot give ‘any legal cover for landlords’ without updating the Code of Practice too.

Meanwhile, the updated guidance assures landlords that the Home Office will NOT pursue a civil penalty against any landlord that has conducted a check on a B5JSSK national correctly.

However, given the harsh penalties in place for landlords who fail to conduct right to rent checks property, it is clear that this is a risk many will not wish to take.

It is worth noting that the updated guidance does mention that the Home Office is seeking to update secondary legislation and the Code of Practice to reflect the changes relating to B5JSSK nationals as soon as possible.

However, given the months of planning that went into expanding the use of ePassport gates and the precarious situation that tenants and landlords now find themselves in, many would argue that ‘as soon as possible’ is not soon enough.

If you would like more information and advice on this visit our dedicated website https://www.right2rent.co.uk/landlords/ or email our resident expert Rachel Whickman here

Nottingham-based Immigration Law specialist Paragon Law has again been recognised once again as a Tier 1 firm by industry bible The Legal 500.

For 32 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market.

The Legal 500 assesses the strengths of law firms in over 150 jurisdictions and this year’s results are in!

Over the last 12 months, Paragon Law has continued to advise a number of large businesses around Brexit, immigration and people strategy, whilst clients have included one of the largest car manufacturers with plants throughout Europe, two multisite and multinational retailers, both of which are dependent on EU nationals as part of their workforce and clients in the higher education sector.

Paragon Law has also recently acquired Samworth Brothers Limited as a client to support their HR managers with training and support with the  transition to a new set of Immigration Rules in anticipation of Free movement of EU nationals ending. A further client win has been the University of Derby.

With Brexit a key factor for every business in the region, the firm has also been active in advising business associations and groups on immigration law and policy and has recently completed a series of workshops in partnership with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Mansfield & Ashfield District Council.

Thalej Vasishta, group CEO at Paragon Law said;

‘We are delighted to be recognised once again for our expertise in Immigration Law by this leading legal authority. The last year has been an incredibly stressful one for any business dealing with the complexities around Brexit, of EU recruitment and the retention staff. Where possible we have advised businesses on how best to manage these changes from an immigration law angle.

‘Despite the economic uncertainty, the UK has continued to see high levels of FDI and in recent months we have advised overseas companies on setting up business in the UK, including a property investment business from Thailand, a fintech recruitment company from India and a paper manufacturer from Dubai.

Alongside Paragon Law’s work within the corporate sector, the firm’s nationally renowned asylum and human rights team remain active with a number of Local Authorities in respect of unaccompanied minors and with charities supporting women and children who have been trafficked to the UK, FGM cases and providing training on asylum issues to the third sector.

On 11 September 2019, the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies. Whilst there was excitement amongst Higher Education colleagues and students that the old Post Study Visa was being resurrected there was still confusion on how this new visa category would be implemented and who will qualify.

The Government have now given further clarification:

It will be introduced in the summer of 2021 and therefore those students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to switch status to this new visa category.

The Graduate Immigration Route will only be available to international students who have a valid Tier 4 certificate and have completed a degree-level course or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.

This means that any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying in the UK. Those whose Tier 4 visas expire before the summer of 2021 will need to benefit from securing a job offer and switching to Tier 2.

Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Graduates will need to switch into a skilled work visa category prior to their two-year visa expiring.

The graduate immigration route will require a new application. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course. This route will not require sponsorship meaning that universities or an employer will not need to sponsor the student to switch into the graduate immigration route.

The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.

Deirdre Sheahan, Director of Nottingham-based Paragon Law’s Asylum and Human Rights team, will be speaking as part of a distinguished panel of experts on Human Rights and Corporate Law at The Supreme Court in London this October. 

The event is organised by the University of Nottingham and will see Deirdre joined by fellow experts, Professor Robert McCorquodale, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and Fiona Laurence, an experienced litigator and Legal Director at London firm Mishcon de Reya.

The event is chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Rabinder Singh, a Lord Justice of Appeal and Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Singh is also formerly a High Court judge of the Queen’s Bench Division, a Queen’s Counsel and barrister, formerly a founding member of Matrix Chambers and a legal academic.

As an immigration lawyer, Deirdre Sheahan has attended conferences with national and international organisations including UNCHR, and led workshops on Human Rights and Asylum for groups such as the British Red Cross and Amnesty International. 

Deirdre has also been at the forefront of notable cases which have changed the law in Refugee and Human Rights claims and has contributed to a range of publications addressing legal aid, refugee children’s rights and asylum practitioner wellbeing. Deidre has also worked closely with organisations such as Business in the Community on modern day slavery, particularly from the standpoint of businesses addressing this in their supply chains and the protection of those that are victims.

Deirdre said “as an Alumni of the University of Nottingham, I am delighted to be representing the city of Nottingham at the Supreme Court event in London. It will be a great opportunity to discuss the importance of human rights in the context of business. Paragon Law’s niche immigration law practice area is very much about the rights of individuals, families, UK trade and investment. Quite often there is a crossover and this is what, I am sure, I and my fellow panel members will highlight”.                  

Thalej Vasishta, Group Chief Executive Officer of Nottingham-based Paragon Law, will be sharing his expert insight into future immigration rules around employing skilled and unskilled migrants Post Brexit, at a series of events with the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

Attendance at the events is free for both members and none-members, which are delivered in partnership with Mansfield District Council

The first event will focus on some of the key concerns for the Manufacturing and Engineering Sector and takes place on Wednesday, 25 September 2019, from 8:30am – 11:30am.

The next event on October 1st, will focus on the Transport and Logistics Sector, whilst a third event on October 9th will address key concerns for employers and HR professionals in relation to how to respond to potential changes due to the UK leaving the EU.

Paragon Law is a Patron of EMC and Thalej Vasishta is on the Brexit Advisory Group of the Chamber. Since the Referendum result, Paragon Law has advised a number of business in the region with regards to their people strategy, particularly businesses that have historically had a large workforce from the EU and migrants from outside of the EU. 

Thalej explains;

‘This is a critical time for British businesses and it is essential that we are all as prepared as possible to understand the situation before, during and after this delicate period of transition. 

‘With regards Settled Status, the Government has already invested hugely in the application process and whilst the Boris Johnson Government does still appear to be supporting the settled status scheme, there is uncertainty as to what the new Immigration Rules will be with regards to future immigration from both the EU and outside of the EU. 

‘Many businesses, particularly in sectors such as logistics, engineering and manufacturing rely both on skilled migration and less skilled workers (the latter which up until now have been coming from the EU) and therefore they need certainty so that they can plan for their future workforce accordingly. 

‘Seminars such as these organised by the Chamber are critically important so that businesses can be updated on different scenarios (deal or no-deal), the new timeframes to make settled status applications for the EU workforce and how the Immigration Bill may shape the future immigration of workers from and outside of the EU.’’

For more information or to book onto the event, click here

Our group CEO, Thalej Vasishta, will swap the office suite at our city centre address for a night under the stars in just a sleeping bag next month, as he joins business figures from across the country in the CEO Sleepout UK campaign.

Here’s Thal discussing the CEO Sleepout campaign, why he wanted to get involved and how you can too.

‘I began my career in law because I have a keen sense of justice and I wanted to help those that struggled to access it. I have been fortunate in my career that I have been able to pursue that dream but for many every day is an immense challenge.

‘Preventing Homelessness and ensuring that those that are in this unfortunate situation are cared for, as best as possible, is everybody’s business. This is particularly so in a climate where report after report has confirmed that the situation is at crisis point.

‘Take a quick walk into town on your lunch break and you will see the scale of the situation. Every situation is different with regards people struggling to find a safe place to sleep or a roof over their heads. However, none of them have been helped by a chronic lack of funding, austerity and successive governments not addressing or pledging the support required by charities that are struggling to help.

‘This is where I and the charities that I am supporting need your help through a donation, however large or small, to address the disadvantage that the homeless face on a day to day and night to night basis.

‘I believe that no one chooses to be homeless and it is the cards that they have been dealt with, in life, which results in this. A lack of role models, mental health, relationship break-ups, domestic abuse, prison leavers, war veterans, care leavers, newly recognised refugees, those on low incomes or benefits. The trigger can be any or a combination of these factors.

‘In perspective, my contribution in terms of time is notably small and any funds raised will be a drop in the ocean compared to the resources that are needed but I want to do my bit where I can.

‘So, on October the 10th, I will sleep out for the night to experience just a little of that which the homeless experience every night on the streets. With your contribution to raise vital funds we will collectively help the incredible hard work of Emmanuel House, The Friary, Notts County Football in the Community and CEO Sleepout UK.  

‘Your donation will help these charities in their work to ensure that there is a mechanism to reach out. To provide food, shelter, health and social care, education, advocacy and to ensure that homelessness prevention is properly embedded in Government, their agencies and society.’ 

To help Thal raise much needed funds for these critical support services and organisations, please visit his dedicated page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thal-vasishta

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe and they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. 

So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Thank you.

An employer who wants to recruit a skilled worker from outside of the EU needs a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. Once the employer has a licence, they can sponsor skilled workers from overseas to fill a role in the UK.

In most cases, the employer will have to prove that they have tried advertising the role to settled workers in the UK before they are allowed to sponsor a non-EU national.

The employer must pay the market rate salary to the migrant worker. The exact level of the salary varies depending on the type of job that the migrant worker will be doing and also whether they are a ‘new entrant’ e.g. a graduate or an ‘experienced’ worker.

There is a cap on the number of skilled migrants that the Home Office will grant visas to each year. The Home Office consider requests from licenced employers on a monthly basis. They allocate ‘certificate of sponsorship’ based on the skill level required, whether the post is in a ‘shortage occupation’ and also the salary that the migrant will be paid.

Once the employer has a certificate of sponsorship, they can sponsor the migrant worker to make a ‘Tier 2’ visa application. Once the visa is granted, the worker can come to the UK and start work.

Once they are in the UK, the sponsoring employer takes on the responsibility for monitoring and reporting on the sponsored employee. The employee’s visa is linked to their specific job. Changes in job title, duties and salary must all be reported to the Home Office. In some cases, a significant change in duties may mean starting the whole process again.

The key proposals in the Governments new Immigration Bill is that if free movement from Europe ends then the cap on the number of skilled workers that can enter the UK under Tier 2 will be scrapped as will the resident labour market test.

Contact: Kirin Abbas, Kirina@paragonlaw.co.uk, 0115 9644114