Monthly Archives: November 2021

US National Wins Deportation Appeal Despite Living in the UK for Over Half a Century

US National Wins Deportation Appeal Despite Living in the UK for Over Half a Century

In October, the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber heard an appeal by 75-year old Polly Gordon against her deportation to the United States, where she was born. She won the appeal on the grounds of her human rights.

Gordon has been living in the UK since 1968, when she emigrated here in her 20’s. She applied for and gained permanent settlement in 1977 and has lived here ever since. On 18th July 2019, she was convicted in Edinburgh on three counts of supplying a controlled drug and was subsequently sentenced to one year in jail on 15th August 2019. When considering the length of sentence to be applied, it was first shortened to 18 months due to her ill health and a second time to one year on account of her entering an early plea.

Following her conviction and imprisonment, the Home Office applied to have Gordon deported to her native US in accordance with section 32(5) of the UK Borders Act 2007 (the court notes that this was the only reason for her deportation).

First Tier Tribunal upholds the deportation

The decision to deport Gordon was appealed on account of her age, time spent in the UK, ill-health, lack of access to health care in the US, and the low risk of her reoffending. The judge acknowledged Gordon’s ill health stating:

“I find that the appellant is frail, with limited mobility, that she is unable to consume solid food, that she has suffered from shingles in the recent past, and that she takes a range of medication”.

Despite this, the judge stated, “I am unable to make any findings as to what difference deportation will make to the appellant’s health”. He also acknowledged that Gordon might face problems accessing healthcare and government assistance due to her prolonged absence from the country. In addition, the judge stated that she would need to pay for her own medication, but he was not aware of the cost or the impact of discontinuing her medicines.

The first-tier judge also looked at the impact of HA (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1176 where it was decided that the length of sentence given rather than the pre-discounted sentence duration should be used to determine the extent of offending. This was disregarded, and it was concluded that Gordon’s 18-month pre-discounted sentence was not at the lower end of offending; “I am not satisfied that the appellant’s offending is at the lower end of the scale”.

Judge Komorowski dismissed the appeal acknowledging the hardship Gordon would face if deported (“She will not be able to claim Pension Credit nor likely any US social security benefit, nor will she likely have access to free healthcare, and her ability to afford it privately will be very limited”) but also stating that these would not “pose any significant obstacles to reintegration”.

Upper-Tier Tribunal finds in favour of Gordon

Gordon appealed to the Upper Tier Tribunal, where it was concluded that the first tier judge had made an error of law; “we find that the First-tier Tribunal Judge made an error of law in treating the index offence as one in which the relevant term of imprisonment was eighteen, rather than twelve, months”. The judge also made the point that the pre-discounted sentence was still on the lower end; “even if the First-tier Tribunal Judge was correct to view the seriousness of the appellant’s offence through the prism of an undiscounted eighteen-month sentence, that sentence was still at the lower end of the scale of seriousness”.

The judge noted the further deterioration in Gordon’s health since the first appeal, including the fact she now relies on a Zimmer frame and suffered a serious fall in the Spring of 2021. In addition, he agreed that Gordon would likely encounter some problems with reintegrating if relocated back to the US, not least due to her age and health issues. Nevertheless, the judge still reached the conclusion that Gordon had not “demonstrated that there would be very significant obstacles to her integration, were she to be returned”.

The Upper Tribunal made a final decision to find in favour of Gordon, on account of her Article 8 ECHR rights, from the perspective of her:

  • extremely long period in the UK predominantly as a settled person
  • her private life
  • health issues
  • age, and;
  • likely financial position if deported
Wrapping up

This case shows that the Home Office are prepared to seek the deportation of an individual if they are sentenced to imprisonment even at the lower end of seriousness, in spite of age, health, length of settlement in the UK, and difficulties with reintegrating. If you are facing a similar situation, speak to an immigration Solicitor as soon as possible, who can advise on your best options, including securing citizenship.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

Win-Win for Sportspeople and Coaches Following Announcement of the new UK International Sportsperson Visa

Win-Win for Sportspeople and Coaches Following Announcement of the new UK International Sportsperson Visa

Anyone who doubts the power of sports as a force for good in society only needed to watch the recent Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Great Britain came fourth in the Olympics medals table ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee, Australia, and the Netherlands, securing 22 gold medals, 21 silvers, and 22 bronze. In the Paralympics, Great Britain did even better, placing second with 41 gold medals ahead of the USA. Competing successfully in sports requires several ingredients; investment, great facilities, and access to the best trainers. It is also essential that top sports talent is able to come to the UK to compete, but also train and develop athletes based here. This is why the new International Sportsperson visa route, announced by the Home Office on 10th September 2021, is so welcome. But what is the new International Sportsperson route?

Government announces the new International Sportsperson visa route

The new route is intended to make it easier for top-level sportspeople from around the world to live and work in the UK. The announcement covered not only sportspeople but also top talent in different

fields (more on this later in this article). The new Sportsperson visa is described as a ‘fast-track’ route and will open at 9 am on 11th October 2021. The route effectively replaces the outgoing Tier 2 (sportsperson) and Tier 5 (creative and sporting) routes (the Home Office is gradually phasing out any reference to these tiers).

Announcing the new route, Home Secretary Priti Patel stated, “We want to attract the world’s greatest minds at the crowning point of their careers, so the UK remains number one on the global leader board in sports, the arts, science, film and technology sectors….we focus on talent and skills, not where someone comes from, and the immigration changes we’re making today demonstrate this, making it much easier for the brightest and best to live and work in the UK”. A spokesperson for the Football Association (FA) said of the new scheme, “The FA welcomes the Home Office changes to simplify the rules required for a visa application for an International Sportsperson. Ensuring a faster system after obtaining a Governing Body Endorsement from the FA will allow for the world’s best footballers to enter the country more easily”.

How will the new International Sportsperson visa work?

The new International Sportsperson visa will combine the Tier 2 and Tier 5 routes into a single route and is separate to the Global Talent Visa. The route will be available to those who wish to come to the UK for 12 months or less, however, it will be possible to stay longer if further criteria are met (see below). In order to acquire a visa under the new scheme, applicants will require:

  • endorsement from a UK Sports Governing Body, and;
  • a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a sponsoring club
  • enough points under the points-based system
  • sufficient knowledge of the English language – this is CEFR level A1 (only if staying in the UK for longer than one year)

Each of the Sports Governing Bodies has a defined set of criteria which they will apply to all applicants to determine if they meet the definition of an elite sportsperson or qualified coach.

The precise rules and eligibility requirements are yet to be published on the Home Office website, however, it is expected that applicants will need to be an “elite sportsperson or qualified coach who is sponsored on a long-term contract to make a significant contribution to the development of sport at the highest level”, as is the case under the current rules.

Assuming the above requirements are met, applicants will be able to apply for an International Sportsperson visa, pay the required application fee, and enrol their biometrics (fingerprints, photo, and signature) at a local Visa Application Centre. Some applicants may be able to enrol their biometrics using the Home Office’s online identity mobile phone app (this is typically the case for EU and EEA nationals).

It is important to note that because clubs need to sponsor players or coaches under this scheme, rather like the points-based work visa scheme, they will need a sponsor licence before they can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Final words

Whether you are an existing Tier 2 Sportsperson or T5 Creative and Sporting sponsor, or you plan to apply for a sponsor license in the near future, the new guidance explaining the rules for the new International Sportsperson visa route will not be available until 11th October 2021 when the scheme is launched. As this is more of a re-branding exercise, the process of issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) is expected to be broadly the same as it is now, and no significant changes are expected. If you need any assistance with acquiring a sponsor license, or making any adjustments to your procedures and systems in light of the new route, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to assist you. And, of course, we will keep you up to date with the latest developments as they occur.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.