THE MAY government is caught up in another deportation scandal! This time it is accused of wrongly using a section of the Immigration Act to threaten to deport at least 1,000 ‘highly skilled migrants’ who are seeking indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK. A range of MPs and immigration experts have condemned the use of the controversial section 322(5) of the act.
The highly skilled workers – including teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and IT professionals – are being refused ILR after being accused of lying in their applications, either for making minor and legal amendments to their tax records, or having discrepancies in declared income.
Highly Skilled Migrants is a support group that represents over 600 workers and says it is in contact with over 400 more, most of whom are facing deportation under section 322(5), with the rest still waiting for a decision by the Home Office.
Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the organisers, said: ‘Ten members of our group have taken the Home Office to the first tier tribunal over their use of 322(5) in the past six months. Nine of these won their cases, with the appeal judges ruling the government’s use of section 322(5) was wrong. ‘At best, this suggests that the Home Office is recklessly incompetent in its use of 322. At worst, however, the section is being applied by the Home Office so often and being overturned so frequently when challenged at the highest level, that I question whether there is a blanket policy which the Home Office is using internally, which no one is aware about.’
Paul Garlick, a former Queen’s Counsel who specialises in extradition and human rights law, and was a part-time judge at the crown court in London said: ‘The decisions of the Home Office are beyond belief and deplorable. ‘The system is crippled by not having enough people to do the work while those who are there, don’t understand the basics,’ he added. ‘They genuinely have no idea of the difference between tax years and accounting years, or what is a legitimately deductible expense.
‘My feeling is that since Theresa May’s announcement of a “hostile environment” for immigrants, caseworkers have been told to look for discrepancies that could form the basis of an accusation the applicant is lying, because that’s the quickest way to dispose of an application.’
Afzal Khan MP, the shadow minister for immigration, said: ‘Driven by a misguided net migration target, the Home Office has gone after what they perceive as easy targets in the form of the Windrush generation and highly skilled migrants. ‘Going after NHS doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers on the basis of tax errors is another example of the misguided injustice of the Home Office.’