Alison Thewliss, the SNP MP for Glasgow Central, said the Home Office’s review into the use of paragraph 322(5) of the Immigration Rules to refuse applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) was “disappointing”, The National newspaper reported yesterday.
Thewliss, who has played a leading role in highlighting the issue of paragraph 322(5), accused the Government of ducking the problems and doubling down on an unfair policy.
The Home Office has been using paragraph 322(5) to refuse many hundreds of ILR applications by Tier 1 (General) migrants over financial discrepancies in their tax returns.
Alison Thewliss told The National: “The 322(5) rules specifically make reference to criminality and threats to national security. It’s a lazy and cynical misapplication of their own rules for the Home Office to lump people who have made errors on their tax returns into this category.”
“This sweeping interpretation of the rules is symptomatic of the UK Government’s self-proclaimed ‘hostile environment’, where immigrants are made to feel as unwelcome and unsupported as possible.”
Thewliss said the fact that the Home Office’s review showed refusal rates of settlement applications from Tier 1 (General) migrants has increased from around 5% to 52% since 2015 was shocking.
The Glasgow Central MP told The National that it was clear from the Home Office’s revised guidance document (see here) that Home Office decision-makers were not adequately qualified to make decisions on complex tax matters.
“It’s incredible that the Home Office is employing case workers who don’t have even the most basic tax knowledge,” Thewliss told the Guardian.
As we reported on Thursday, the Home Office’s review defended the use of paragraph 322(5) and found the vast majority of refusals were correct, although it admitted an error rate in refusals of around 2%.
A Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian that the immigration rule in question is one for general grounds of refusal and it was completely wrong to say its primary use is fighting terrorism.
The Home Office’s review also revealed, however, that almost 250 people have so far successfully appealed against their refusals in the immigration tribunal, and several hundred cases remain outstanding and have yet to be heard.
The National reported that 87 highly skilled migrants have been wrongly forced to leave the UK