Should private life constitute a right to stay?
In a recent landmark case concerning immigration regulations, Mr. Munawar challenged the Home Office’s decision that denied him to remain in the UK. The tribunal found in favour of Mr Munawar and declared that the Home Office decision was incompatible with Article 8, which protects the right to privacy and family life, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Mr. Munawar’s application to remain was originally refused on the grounds that he did not have enough funds in his bank account to reach the requirements of the points-based system used to determine visa applications. At first instance, the case was rejected and went on appeal to the Upper Tier of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal where, upon finding the Home Office decision unlawful, Judge Pitt stated:
“In addition to his studies, the appellant has formed friendships with fellow students and work colleagues. He has been living with student friends. He plays cricket at the weekends and trains in the week. He attends his mosque regularly and follows a personal development course there. His mother and siblings remain in Bangladesh and his father is working in Iraq. He has a paternal aunt and cousins in the UK. He sees them most weekends. His grandmother also lived in the UK but, sadly, she died last year”
Although this is an upper tribunal decision, which still could be overturned on subsequent appeal, concerns have been raised that this case could result in thousands of applications being lodged from other students who have made friends and settled in their community over the three years of their study. This decision is not binding on future cases but it is felt that this may be referred to in subsequent judgments concerning similar matters and that the principles found in this case will be applied.
This comes at a time where the Government has been scrutinised for failing to meet their pledge to reduce net immigration to tens of thousands per year. The Minister for immigration, Damien Green said that:
“We are disappointed with this ruling. It shows how Article 8 is being used to place the private life of those without a right to remain in the UK above the rights of the British public, who want to see our immigration rules enforced.”
The Human Rights Act 1998 gives further effect to the ECHR and enables domestic courts to grant a remedy for the breach of a convention right without the need for the applicant to be heard at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
For more information about this case please see:
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