Supporting documentation for changes to the Asylum process

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee is reported to have taken issue with the Home Office’s Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules on the grounds that its supporting documentation provides insufficient information regarding the policy’s objectives and the effective implementation.

The principal function of the instrument, which came into effect on 31st December 2020, is to clarify the places and circumstances in which an asylum application may be properly made, and also to enhance the UK’s capacity to treat as inadmissible claims made by those who have passed through a safe third country.

In the report, the Committee criticised the lack of information, for example, enforcement guidance, to explain how these changes to asylum applications would work in practice.  In addition, subsequent checks after 1st January showed that many relevant web pages have not been updated even though the legislation is in effect.

The Home Office replied, in response to the Committee’s questions, saying the aim of the instrument was to deter migrants from paying large sums of money to people smugglers in order to undertake dangerous journeys across the Channel.

The Government say that they hoped that future “robust return” agreements would support the rule change by allowing those who have made an inadmissible application to be returned to an EU state.  However, they also said that if these individuals could not be deported “within a matter of months” then the person would be entered into the asylum system anyway.

The Committee, in conclusion, felt the imprecise terms used in the Rule changes might merely result in delays to the asylum process and therefore questioned its effectiveness in deterring “inappropriate” asylum seekers.  The Committee urged the House to ask the Minister for details as to how the “robust returns” policy is to be delivered and the deterrent effect promulgated.