"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Friday 29 May 2015

Tier 4 application and HO bureaucracy

So browsing the Supreme Court webcasts, as you do, I came across a case of a Tier 4 student whose application was refused by the Home Office because his bank statement showing the required funds was a few days short of the required 28 day period.  There was no doubt that the student, Mandalia, had the funds - indeed, they were more than double the required level, or that he was a genuine student who met all the other requirements.

Home Office will have spent tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands fighting a student who paid so much money to study here, and was refused his leave to remain for a reason that could easily have been resolved with the HO contacting the applicant requesting the missing pages - especially when they had sent him a letter on receipt of his application saying they would do just that!

Watching the webcast it came out that neither the lengthy application form nor the 'Help Text' accompanying the form mentioned that the period which the bank statement should cover was a minimum of 28 days.  I am really interested to see what the judges make of this - they seem to be able to cut through the waffle to get to the heart of the matter, but my judgement on how judges come across in a hearing and what they actual decide doesn't have a great track record!

It was really sad as well to see the applicant with his mum in the audience, put through the grind for such a trivial mistake.

Worth a watch if you have a spare few hours: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2014-0059.html

Thursday 28 May 2015

Poem on human rights

By: Anonymous, choosing to not be identified because of the family's visa situation

First they came for a man who preached hate and violence
and sent him away to be tortured
and I did not speak out – because I am not a terrorist

Then they came for the working poor who fell in love with a foreigner
and left British children with only a Skype Mummy and a tablet called Da-Da
and I did not speak out – because I was lucky, my wife had a visa

Then they came for those who spoke out
and locked a Welsh Man’s wife in a high security prison for a week after she spoke to the BBC
and I did not speak out – because I was scared

All this they did while complaining about how the need to respect our basic Human Rights made it difficult

Now they are coming for the only independent judges who can provide rules to protect us
and asking us to let them do whatever they want to us in the future
it is time to speak out – before there is no one left

Friday 22 May 2015

Surinder Singh for Newbies - 2015 extended edition

Author : David B,

The extended 'Surinder Singh for newbies' is now available for 2015, and it looks great. David has excelled himself once again.

PDF format, on Scribd : 

EPUB format (good for certain mobile browsers), on Scribd :

Word format, on Scribd :

PDF format, on Hashdoc (for those in jurisdictions which block Scribd, or for people who just prefer not to use Scribd) *** NEW 28/Aug/2015!!!**** :

Now including (2014) :

1.       New front cover graphic!
2.       Print out itineraries/hotel accommodation
3.       Visa is free
4.       Cover letter incorporating the old and the new one
5.       Relevant parts of the Directive
6.       If quizzed on entry what to say.
7.       Warning ‘Do not mention ‘Surinder Singh’ on entry
8.       Don’t be alarmed at number of days stamped in passport
9.       Factor in Prices, Health Care, and Transport
10.   New links to Self-Employment
11.   Non EU working without stamp 4
12.   New link for PPS numbers
13.   Opening Bank Accounts /Changes
14.   Submit EU1 earliest opportunity and include cover letter for missing docs.
15.   Centre of Life issues
16.   Family Permit Apps and inclusion of ‘Teleperformance’
17.   Map with locations and distances and times to travel to Dublin
18.   PRTB explained in Family Permit Docs section.
19.   Section 5 on EEA2 app relating to Singh and tick box if you have FP
20.   Warning about planning and lack of planning
21.   Additional useful sites

And for 2015  :

1.      Introduction ‘Who Is Surinder Singh’?
2.      Cain Ruling, with regards to unmarried durable relationships.
3.      Marriage information site regarding getting married in Ireland.
4.      Rewrite and change of fonts to make the guide easier to read.
5.      Info on 30 day limit to submit all documents for C visa.
6.      Travel any time within the validity period of C visa.
7.      Emphasis on irrelevance what is stamped in passports on entry (90 days)
8.      Stress importance of choosing location regarding homes and jobs.
9.      Hidden costs e.g. TV licence, dentistry etc. and how expensive.
10.  When choosing schools, make sure they are not oversubscribed, other costs include school uniforms & books etc.
11.  Extra house rental sites added.
12.  Article 23 from Directive confirming right to work for non EU.
13.  Warnings on costs of living.
14.  Overview of PPSN with added sites for tax & PPSN information.
15.  Sending in EU1 application before resuming work.
16.  Explanatory Leaflet EU1 link.
17.  Check Bank charges with link to comparison websites detailing charges.
18.  Explanation of PRTB.
19.  Suggestions for integration into your local community for COL.
20.  New EEA(FAM) RC application form + new fee and fee for biometrics.
21.  Emphasis on patience will be needed throughout your stay in your host country.
22.  To offset printing and photocopying costs suggest buying a cheap 3 in 1 printer.
23.  Change of disclaimer description to now include people need to consult a lawyer or immigration specialist if needing advice.
24.  New front page cover with new wording and description.
25.  New graphic and vector art to compliment the wording and new site inclusions.
26.  Explanation of abbreviations e.g. FP, COL, RC etc.

It's important to highlight that this is a guide, not a manual, as things change all the time and the nature of these things means that the sphere of knowledge is always growing.

This route is not easy - and preparation is key. But the rewards are great.

EEA visa - EU free movement - A great Facebook support group for people going through the route :

A video on one family's experience of the route :

Country-specific guides by Sonel (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands, Poland) :

Surinder Singh stories (lots of links to various people's personal experiences at the bottom of the post) :

Malta in a nutshell by David and Dee :

Surinder Singh in the Netherlands by Amanda :


What is the Surinder Singh route and how does it work? Surinder Singh archive by Wayne :

More Surinder Singh links :

Good luck.


"Refugees are scum"

A man wearing 'Refugees are scum' signage evokes some interesting reactions from commuters in Sydne, whilst signage asking for help for refugees, doesn't.

Watch this

Thursday 21 May 2015

The MM case has made a big step forward on its journey through the English Court system.

Author : Mark Stokes (LondonMark)

The MM case has made a big step forward on its journey through the English Court system yesterday. (The official notice should be published on the Supreme Courts website at the end of this month when it publishes the monthly list of permissions to appeal)

Even though there seemed to be a lack of news during the last few months many things have been happening in the background and the legal teams have been kept busy. The first hurdle they have had to overcome has been applying for the case to be funded from Legal Aid.

Just this month the legal aid legislation has been criticised in a ruling at the court of appeal as being ‘disgracefully complex’ by Lord Justice McCombe. Our learned friend Justice Blake had already in his Bunning ruling back in November 2013 said that the draft of the new regulations 'are likely to give rise to very real difficulty within the profession in knowing how to apply for legal aid'

As several different parties are involved in this case each one had to apply individually and a costed case plan submitted under the new system. The last of the applications seeking permission to appeal were finally able to be made in January after this hurdle had been overcome.

When being considered for legal aid, generally any case that has less than a 50% chance of being successful at a substantive final hearing is refused legal aid at the stage of evaluating its prospects. So by gaining legal aid funding the case has already been evaluated as having a more than 50% chance of being successful.

During July-September 2014 out of 81 immigration case applications only 11 were granted legal aid (page 35 of Legal Aid Statistics in England and Wales July to September 2014)

Before everybody gets too optimistic we do not know what they used as the measure of success. In this case it could be that success is only gaining clarity that the new rules were legal or not.

Why is gaining permission to appeal such a big step forward?

This is like having a provisional on paper hearing to decide if the case has a strong enough argument to be heard in the Supreme Court. 

The majority of applications are refused permission to appeal.


So how hard is it to gain permission?

In April (a month with the Easter break) only one case applied to appeal to the Supreme Court and was refused permission to appeal.

In March of this year 23 cases applied to appeal to the Supreme Court; only 3 were given the permission to appeal and back in January/February out of 36 applications only 11 were granted permission to appeal.

‬The following is taken from the Supreme Courts guide to proceedings. It is written for people with out legal representatives to help the layperson understand what happens without so much legal jargon. The court procedure is the same even wether you have legal representation or not.

"The test which the Court applies is, however, a strict one. Permission to appeal is only granted for applications that, in the opinion of the Justices, raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at that time, bearing in mind that the matter will already have been the subject of judicial decision and may have already been reviewed on appeal."

So the court by granting the permission to appeal has decided that there is a strong argument on a point of law that is important to the general public.


So what happens now?

The next step is the full official application must be submitted for a hearing date.

The quickest this could happen in an ideal world with everything being fast tracked would be 3 working months. Given that the Supreme Court does not sit in August and September the earliest possible date would be the end of October 2015 for the hearing.

But a related case Bibi (English language requirement) had to wait 10 months after the permission to appeal was granted (April 2014) until their hearing date (February 2015). 

So we could possibly be looking at as late as April 2016 for this case to be heard at the Supreme Court.  The hearings usually take place over 2 days with the the appellant having the opportunity to state their arguments first. The respondent to the appeal will then make their submissions and then appellant has a right of 'reply' before the Judges consider all the arguments.

Since May 2015 nearly all the Supreme Court hearings can be viewed online, live or on demand at a later time, which is good news for those who cannot travel to the court on the day.

In nearly all cases, the Court will not announce its decision at the end of the hearing. The Justices prepare a written judgment which is sent to the parties after the hearing. The judgment will be sent to the parties in draft first and then the Justices will formally 'hand down' their decision at a further hearing.

As in the case of Bibi the handing down of the judgment could take several months from the actual hearing.

This means we will most probably get a decision just before the 4th anniversary of the introduction of the 9th July 2012 rules.

We just hope we do not have to wait the 800 years the Barons and Bishops had to in order to get a hearing date ;)

In the meantime, again you can review what happened at the Court of Appeal by reading this overview.

Note the hashtag for tweets relating to this case on Twitter is : #MMcase

Wednesday 20 May 2015

MM case

Finally just received the news we have all been waiting for since 11th July 2014.

The Supreme Court has ordered that the appeal in the case of MM, AM, AF and SJ (more commonly referred to as MM & Others) vs Secretary of State Home Department be GRANTED. (Fist pump!)

They go on to say that the applicant MM will be heard as the Lead Appeal, with the other cases to only deal with the points that MM has not dealt with.

Date to be confirmed though unlikely to be before autumn.  In the meantime, refresh your mind as to what happened at the Court of Appeal by reading this overview.

Note the hashtag for tweets relating to this case on Twitter: #MMcase

Update 15th June: Supreme Court website now denotes confirmation of the grant too: https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/permission-to-appeal-2015-05.pdf

Tuesday 12 May 2015

How to handle phone calls from UKVI

In January 2015, there appeared to be a very deliberate policy by UKVI staff to phone interview Family Permit applicants and their sponsors.  These phone calls seemed to stop for a while and it appeared that with the McCarthy ruling, finally implemented by the UK from 6th April 2015 rendering a FP unnecessary for holders of Article 10 Residence Cards, the phone calls may have stopped for good.  However, just today heard of yet another phone interview request.

Note: FP applications may still be made by those who don’t hold the relevant residence card, and even those who even with a RC wish to go through a trial run for any future UK RC application. 

So with the beast rearing its ugly head, a reminder of how you may wish to handle phone calls from UKVI – some lasting for over two hours!  The calls used to cause a lot of panic, and hearing a few calls which were recorded by the sponsor I have put together some tips. 

How you take forward the call is your choice - you alone can judge whether a call will help or hinder your application.  The number they call is the number you put on the form - so only give them contact details that you don't mind them utilising to....contact you.

1) Stay calm. If it's not a good time for you or you find yourself panicking or you need time to set up the call recording, tell them it's not convenient for you, or the applicant is not available. Ask them to call back (or take their number if you want to call them back).

2) Ask them to identify themselves. Don't ask them 'Is this UKVI?' This shows you were expecting their call/have something to hide/are panicking. Ask them their name, have it spelt out and get them to specify which department they are calling from. Take a reference number. Remember you don’t know they are who they say they are and you're potentially providing a lot of personal info so it's okay to verify their identity!

3) Ask them what the purpose of the call is.

4) If you don’t want a phone call, tell them you're not comfortable with a phone call, that you have provided them with all the info required to under the EEA regulations (assuming this is the case).  If they want more, suggest they communicate with you in writing as this will allow you to consult your legal advisors (whether you do or not, fear of their practices being under legal scrutiny may ensure they abide by the law!).  One UKVI staff member suggested she was calling as a favour to the application because it would take far too long were they to communicate with the applicant in writing. Ahem. Yes because the Home Office is known for its speedy processing of applications!  UKVI then went on to say that if the applicant refuses to be interviewed over the phone they will consider the application based on info they already have – insinuating this would lead to a refusal, although that is by no means necessarily true.

5) If you don’t mind a phone call, then start recording, and get their consent (or maybe just inform them) you are recording the call. There are lots of apps which may be used - try them out first to ensure the quality is sound. If they say no to the recording, then you need to decide whether you should refuse to continue (what do they have to hide?) or proceed.  If they say okay to the recording, they may be more careful in what they ask you and how they speak with you. 

6) If they insist on speaking with the applicant (because on the FP application it has been indicated the applicant can speak English and is available to answer questions), but you as the sponsor want to liaise with them, explain you applied on their behalf and you are their representative. If they don't budge on that and it is okay for the applicant to speak with them, then I would suggest any question relating to the sponsor's activities, the applicant (especially where a dependent parent) should say something along the lines of: 'I'm afraid you will need to ask my son/daughter about that as they are the sponsor. I am dependent on them.'  Depends how comfortable the applicant is answering questions relating to the sponsor's activities.

7) UKVI state the purpose of the call is to ask supplementary questions - be familiar with the application form and perhaps any questions asked which are on the form already, refer them to the form, assuming what is on the form is correct. If your answer is now different, be able to explain any contradictions!

8) After every question from them, ask them whether you have to answer that question under the Directive/EEA regulations. They might say no you don’t have to answer this question and move on to another.  They might say yes you do.  They may well say if you don't want to we will have to hang up and make our decision based on information we have. It's a bullying tactic...like a salesperson who makes you think you're getting this great deal but if you don't pay immediately they'll sell it to someone else and you'll lose out, because by taking your money they're doing you a favour *rollseyes*.  However, if you're going to answer the question even if they say no you don’t have to, then don't bother asking whether you have to - it just makes you look weak. 

9) A recurrent theme seems to be questions relating to activities in the UK prior to the move, the motive for moving from the UK and now back to the UK and the expected activity in the UK.  Bear in mind you do not have to answer these questions - read this: https://eumovement.wordpress.com/law-ecj-case-law/ecj-case-c%E2%80%916889-commission-v-netherlands-1991/ 

Any reason for move can simply be 'exercising free movement rights'.  This applies to the EU citizens and by extension their family members.  See case Akrich.

10) Another common question is the purpose and duration of stay in the UK. Another one you don't have to answer. See case Commission of European Communities vs Netherlands

11) NEVER EVER say 'so far I have been completely honest with you' or 'to be honest' etc it suggests you are hiding something or that you're not always honest!! (To keep in mind for job interviews too.)

12) NEVER lie. No matter what. Choose not to answer if you prefer. But lying is super bad.

13) Don't get defensive, and try not to be nervous. Remember, you are just relaying facts. Any sign of defensiveness is likely to be viewed with suspicion - as if you are trying to hide something.

14) In one call, UKVI asked the sponsor to leave the room so they could speak to the applicant in private. Now common sense guys. It's not a video call. So there's no point arguing the point with them if you're going to (even if seemingly so) give in anyway.  The sponsor in this case argued the point but then finally agreed to leave the room when UKVI said they'd have to hang up if he refused to leave the room, or if he helped the applicant in answering the questions.

15) There have been a lot of questions on whether the applicant/sponsor claimed any benefits in the UK and in the country they are now living in.  If you're feeling brave then question them as to how the answer impacts the FP application (it shouldn’t).   It may help in showing COL (at a push) but it's more likely to be used to show you are not gainfully employed, or that you’re a burden on the state for them to possibly use the public interest reason to refuse.  Who knows.  See however cases Levin and Lebon. 

16) One applicant when being interviewed mentioned she was feeling dizzy. UKVI then said if you're feeling ill I am going to have to stop this interview and hang up.  How did the applicant respond? "No no, no, please dont stop the interview'.

UKVI is playing on the fear factor. If you're not feeling well, reschedule or ask for their questions in writing.

17) Beware of answering instrusive irrelevant questions. Questions where the applicant was divorced led to a lot of questions about the divorce process and ex-husband when it should not have mattered - given he was not an applicant. Super painful.

18) Immigration history is also looked into - I'm not sure how relevant these questions are given I thought adverse immigration history was not supposed to be used against the applicant, but I can't find anything to verify that - if any of you do, please do send to me!

19) There are only a few grounds for refusal under this route which I'm aware of, including: i) public policy, health or security ii) circumvention iii) reg 9 / Centre of Life not being met iv) sham relationship  For the bulk it is probably ii) they will try and catch you out on.  Understanding what questions you must answer, and the ones you do not, can help eradicate this as a possible reason for refusal.

20) If you are refused a FP because you did not provide some info, you can always re-apply and provide more info.  If you are refused because you provided information which is subsequently used against you, it is impossible to take that information back. I know these calls are nerve wracking and no one wants a refusal, but bear this in mind.

21) Like in any interview, knowing when to stop talking is key. Answer the question if you want to but don't waffle on.  In waffling you are more likely to say daft things.  One sponsor said he wasn’t working in a specific job because the weather in Malta is very bad, which automatically led UKVI to ask 'you think the weather in Malta is bad, then how will you manage in the UK'...to which the sponsor replied 'well, UK is my country'.  It shouldn’t really matter but totally does not help the COL argument!

22) Ensure any answers you provide are rational, consistent, truthful and factual.  Don't state you are looking for a new job in Malta whilst also then going on to state you will look for a job in the UK. 

23) Don't lecture them on how you have the right not to answer the question if you're going to answer the question anyway. You come across weak, confused and argumentative.

24) Think before you respond.  They may question you on why you are not answering instantly - ignore that question or tell them you prefer to pause and think before answering, or ask them if they prefer you to answer without thinking (okay this is a little argumentative, but we are human). If you are taking notes and this slows the answering process that's fine...tell them you're making notes of your conversation (they pause to do the same).

Links to some of the above case law: https://www.scribd.com/doc/244311141/Free-movement-useful-references  Read Colin's SS guide here: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/shop/ and more in our FAQ: https://www.scribd.com/doc/231038768/BritCits-FAQ

Stay calm and carry on, as we say in 'our country' ;)

Friday 8 May 2015

The 2015 Election

On 7-8th May 2015 the voice of the people was heard giving Cameron a Tory majority government, in what has been a surprise to everyone, including senior Tory politicians.  

With all seemingly unhappy with what the Tory led government has done since 2010 - nurses, doctors, teachers, students, police, lawyers, migrants, British citizens and residents with non-EEA family, EU citizens, the poor, disabled, vulnerable - why have voters given the Tories a clear mandate to govern, something they didn't do even in 2010?

I believe it's more to do with what the other parties did than what they Tories did.

Lib Dem supporters felt betrayed by the party opting to form a coalition with the Tories in 2010 when the natural and expected ally would have been Labour. (Incidentally, a Lib Dem peer admitted to me in 2013 that Lib Dems had gotten in bed with the wrong partner.)  This error was compounded with the introduction of student tuition fees.  Lib Dems copped all the blame for this, despite it being a coalition decision and amongst all the broken promises made by all the parties, this one remains the most high-profile.  Nick Clegg apologised for this again and again and again, but the loss of trust was too bitter a pill to swallow.  The Lib Dems were expected to keep the Tories from pushing through exactly these kind of policies.

Labour tried too hard to adopt a Tory-like stance, abandoning its traditional voting base.  Taking family immigration rules as an example, they were passed through parliament with barely any protest from Labour, failing completely in what I think the role of Opposition should be.  In doing so, Labour accepted they were, as accused by the Tories, of being too relaxed on immigration.  Rather than be taken in by the anti-immigration rhetoric whipped up by Tories and UKIP, Labour had the opportunity to take a moral stance and stand up for the positives of immigration; point out more forcefully our economic woes were not caused by immigration but a global financial crisis.  Labour preferred to cower in a corner and say sorry, reinforcing Tory propaganda (oh Lynton Crosby, you evil genius!).

The line between the main left and right wing parties became so blurred that voters were left with the choice of wannabe-Tories in Labour or the original Tories.  With the latter at least you got what it said on the tin.

Cameron has apologised for nothing, not even net immigration (a target which is an own goal if ever there was one) which has soared under his leadership, despite it being one of their flagship policies.  No apologies for the record need for food banks. Instead of apologising for dividing families, Cameron praised his party for cutting non-EU migration.

My biggest peeve with Cameron though is not just that he refused to take part in the debates, but that each time he did take the podium, he referred to 'my disabled son' in a shameful exploitation of his deceased child.  Surely he, his wife, his other kids who are alive have also benefitted from NHS despite not suffering from cerebral palsy?  Why then use the example of his deceased child?  He'd have earned some respect if like the other leaders, and like he did with his other kids, he didn't use his dead child for political goal scoring.

In a nutshell, Tories won because they remained true to their values (loose definition) whereas the other parties got scared and betrayed their traditional voter base; Tories apologised for nothing, whereas the others constantly said sorry even for things they should not have been sorry for.  A voter therefore would have been left with the feeling that whoever they voted for, the policies they'd get were inevitable - why not vote for the party being up front about what they would do?!

Tories will understandably take this result as a mandate from the people to continue to implement their manifesto promises.  Scrap the Human Rights Act resulting in uncertainty for those who are in UK on grounds of human rights, outside of the immigration rules.  An EU in-out referendum to come, though unlikely to impact those already in UK under EEA regulations - but who knows whether the application will be retrospective.  The very vivid image I have of Theresa May rubbing her hands in glee at the prospect of being able to divide more families and 'finish the job' is horrifying.  But whilst we are the proverbial turkeys who voted for Christmas, there are still things we can do to.

Budding Surinder Singhers may wish to exercise treaty rights and move to another Member State to be with their family soon if feasible.  We must keep a close eye on the MM case, still awaiting permission for a hearing in the Supreme Court which I hope will be granted soon - perhaps the courts were waiting for a decision on the election despite the application being for an expedited hearing.  We need your support in our own legal challenge of the ADR rules.  Everyone in the country to try and come to the now traditional demo outside the Home Office on 9th July.  Children, posters, banners and family all welcome. Details here (Facebook account needed)

With so many people voting for parties other than the main two, it's a warning for all politicians to not become complacent; a case has been made for the need for electoral reform and a move away from the first past the post system.
So contact your MP - congratulate them but make them work for you.  Even let the party you would normally have voted for but didn't, know what they need to do differently to re-win your support come next election.  Maybe in 2020.  Hopefully sooner.