HSMP Forum’s Press Release

Home Office in court over immigration changes 
HSMP Forum (UK) Limited Vs Secretary of State for the Home Department 

Dt – 10th March 2009

The Home Office will be in the dock at the High Court this Friday, 13 March, as thousands of skilled migrants living in Britain try to force Jacqui Smith to honour the original terms of their visas.

In 2006 the government retrospectively changed their visas, including making them wait five years to become permanent residents of Britain instead of the original four years they were promised. The retrospective changes were challenged in the high court and the judge, Sir George Newman, ordered the Home Secretary to honour the original terms of the migrants' visas, which were issued under the highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP).

"Jacqui Smith obeyed only part of this ruling - she did not reverse the retrospective changes applied for settlement" said Amit Kapadia, executive director of HSMP Forum.

"HSMP Forum does not object to the government applying these rules for new migrants wanting to enter Britain in the future - but existing migrants should get the treatment they were promised when they came here.

"Ms Smith deliberately ignored parts of the ruling so she could keep the door open for future discriminatory changes that she intends to impose on law-abiding, taxpaying skilled migrants who have been here for several years already.

The Judicial Review would be argued by renowned Barristers Michael Fordham, QC and Rick Scannell.

The changes to HSMP have been condemned on both sides of politics, including by the cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights, and the immigration courts have been fully implementing Sir George Newman's ruling despite Ms Smith's refusal.  The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has written to Ms Smith urging her to respect the ruling, but she has refused to do so.

"The Government made specific promises to Highly Skilled Migrants: that they would be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after four years; and that to renew their visas they needed to prove they were working and supporting themselves, without any access to state benefits or public money. There was no scope in the scheme for these promises to be withdrawn. Yet the Home Office defaulted on those promises - so a judge ordered that they be restored in full.

"A number of skilled immigrants have fought individual court cases on this point and won. We are now calling on Jacqui Smith to end what has become a costly court battle for the taxpayer, a deeply embarrassing affair for the government and an extremely stressful state of affairs for skilled migrants."

"Skilled migrants made many sacrifices to make Britain their main home - they left their well-established careers, sold properties, wound up businesses and uprooted their families from their home countries based on promises made by the government of being able to settle here after a certain period of their stay. The government cannot apply a blanket, retrospective change of policy to migrants who took detrimental steps to settle in Britain, pay their taxes and are contributing towards public funds without access to any of the benefits enjoyed by permanent residents and citizens.

Camillus Osubar, the head of policy at HSMP forum, said: "In court cases the Home Office's own presenting officers have even accepted that the retrospective rule changes were an unlawful act."

"This has become more or less a circus. Jacqui Smith is indulging in a waste of public funds pursuing this bizarre vendetta. For how long will the taxpayers allow this to go on?"

The case will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Media contact: Amit Kapadia

email info@hsmpforum.org

Links for editors

1)            http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2008/664.html

2)            Hardship Statements


3)            Page 48 


4)            http://www.hsmpforumltd.com/aitappeals.html

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