European Union law facilitates the free movement of its citizens within its borders, allowing European Treaty rights to be exercised anywhere in that area. Being no great fan of Europe, foreigners, or of free movement into UK borders, UK governments have not always been keen to play the Euro game.
Consequently, UK domestic law intended to give effect to these European principles has tended to be mean and minimalistic; draftspersons have strained the meaning of words and principles almost to breaking point in order to minimise the number of foreigners allowed to this Green and Pleasant Land. (And they accuse immigration barristers of being devious and cunning!)
Surinder Singh – EU rights extended to cover family members of British citizens
A peculiar result was that, whilst citizens from other EU states, working in the UK, could (under EU law) bring their 3rd country spouses to the UK, British citizens could not do the same. The argument was a technical one to do with construction of the words used in the EU Treaty (rather than its spirit or intention). It was a mean and silly point and the UK was taken to the EU Court of Justice over it and then forced to change the Regulations.
Following the judgement in Surinder Singh, the UK again made minimal changes, declining to extend the principle to give UK citizens the full rights available to non-UK Europeans working in the UK.
One result was this: under EU law, a worker who wanted to bring her unmarried 3rd-country partner to live with her in the UK could do so- as long as that worker was not British! If she was British, argued the Home Office, she was in the UK under UK law, not EU law (and I can do what I want with my own subjects, so there!).
Some British citizens felt this was an unfair (and bizarre) situation.
But the Home Office stuck to its guns.
Once again, the matter has come before the courts.
Kamila Santos Campelo Cain – Surinder principles applied to extended family
In a determination promulgated on 17-Oct-14 (unreported at the time of writing), the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), Mr Haddon-Cave, J, and Mr Kopieczek considered the question whether an unmarried partner is entitled to the benefit of the decision of Surinder Singh  EUECJ C-370/90 … and the extent to which a third country national family member of such a British citizen is entitled to reside in the UK under EC law. (Kamila Santos Campelo Cain v Secretary of State for the Home Department IA/40868/2013).
The first instance judge had allowed an appeal against the Home Office’s decision to refuse a residence card to the Brazilian national wife of a British citizen returning worker. There had been no dispute that the relationship was genuine and enduring or that the family (including the couple’s 2 children) had lived together in other EU state’s whilst the partner had worked there.
Instead of accepting the judgement and issuing the card, the Home Office appealed on the basis that the EEA Regulations (i.e. the UK law) didn’t cover extended families.
Actually, as the Upper Tier noted, the judge had “manifestly not made this mistake”- in fact, noting the Regulations didn’t cover the situation, he had applied the Directive directly (i.e. European law).
Although the Home Office’s Grounds of Appeal were flawed, they were granted permission to appeal; after noting the same the tribunal went on to consider the wider merits of the case.
Immigration barristers Jan Doerfel and Jeremy Chipperfield argued that the effect of the Surinder Singh judgement was that British citizens exercising treaty rights should, on their return to the UK, be treated no less favourably than any other European nationals- and this means the EU rights cover extended family as it does with other EU nationals.
The effect of the domestic Regulations was unfairly to discriminate against British nationals.
The Upper Tribunal noted: notwithstanding that Surinder Singh… concerns family members as defined by the Directive, we cannot see any distinction in principle between [it] and the case of the appellant before us. In our judgement, the exercise of the right of free movement by an EEA national is as likely to be adversely affected by the inability of a durable partner to reside with the EEA national in the host State, as it would be were his or her spouse to be denied residence status. … we do consider that the Surinder Singh principle does extend to persons such as the appellant who are in a durable relationship…
I will report the Home Office response (if any) in this blog.
UK immigration policy is founded on “sheer prejudice” Alex Salmond, Minister for Scotland, told a gathering of International journalists in Edinburgh. Labour Party member Anum Qaisar described them to the same gathering as “anti-immigration and xenophobic”.
The SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland went on to promise “a very substantial change in immigration rules to work and study in an independent Scotland”. Asked specifically about immigration rules affecting Indian students, he said “We will look to restore and increase the number of Indian students in Scottish universities, which as you may know, has halved over the last four years as a result of the ridiculous restrictions being imposed by the Home Office”.
He continued “The Scottish Parliament… introduced the post-graduate work entitlement… students got automatic entitlement to work in the Scottish economy if they so chose. That was reversed by the Home Office in London, starting under the last Labour government… . Its the result of sheer prejudice, negativity and backward-looking policy from the Westminster government which we shall certainly reverse”.
cf the tone of pre-election immigration debate in the rest of the UK and Europe.
In common with all immigration lawyers, I am often approached by clients who wish to work legally in the UK but have been refused a visa. Whilst I can often suggest a solution, it seems that UK Home Office Contractors have been offering this service on a massive scale- and the work comes with accommodation (compulsory).
Campaign group Corporate Watch (CW) allege detention contractors exploit immigration detainees as a cheaper than minimum wage workforce in the detention and removal centres run on behalf of the Home Office.
The allegations arise from UK Home Office figures which reveal that in May 2014 alone detainees at seven centres (run by Serco, G4S, GEO and Mitie) did nearly 45,000 hours of work for an average of around £1 per hour (National Minimum Wage rates for adults is £5.13 or for workers 21 and over, £6.50 p/h).
It is suggested that this work is a means by which these organisations are satisfying some of their core contractual obligations to the Home Office (cleaning, cooking etc). CW researcher has stated “these companies are potentially saving millions of pounds by exploiting their captive migrant workforce on a grand scale”.
But aren’t there laws against that kind of exploitation?
Well, section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 creates an offence of holding another person in slavery or servitude or requiring them to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Section 71 says: A person (D) commits an offence if:
(i) D holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is so held, or
(ii) D requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that D knows or ought to know that the person is being required to perform such labour.
The references to holding a person in slavery or servitude etc are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention, but Article 4(3) of the ECHR sets out exceptions -“forced or compulsory labour” does not include any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention (e.g. for deportation or to prevent illegal entry to a country).
Now I know where to point the next client who wants to work legally in the UK without a visa.
(Corporate Watch describes its role as the investigation of “the social and environmental impacts of corporations and corporate power”).