UK – Kweku Adoboli Fights Deportation to Ghana

Kweku Adoboli, the British-based Ghanaian who was responsible for the biggest fraud ever recorded in the UK is fighting deportation from the UK to the country of his birth, Ghana.  Under the UK’s rules, a non-citizen who has been sentenced to prison for more than 4 years must be deported, in the absence of any compelling circumstances.  Kweku’s sentence was 7 years, of which he served half.  The sorts of circumstances that would be considered compelling would be strong family connections or job ties in the UK.  Kweku does not meet these criteria, as his current relationship is new and has not been allowed to work for money under the terms of his early release from prison.  However, he has been involved in charity work, attempting to educate leaders and others in the community to learn from his mistakes.

This case demonstrates the potential consequences to a migrant of not obtaining citizenship in their chosen country of residence at the earliest opportunity.  Kweku Adoboli was eligible to apply for citizenship, having lived in the UK for 26 years, but he kept putting if off because of his hectic travel schedule for work.  Consequently, he is still considered a foreigner and eligible for deportation to Ghana.  He has reportedly not lived in Ghana since he was 4 years old, and has been in the UK since he was 12.

A petition to prevent Kweku’s deportation has been backed by over 100 UK Members of Parliament (MPs).  However, barring a last-minute intervention, it is unlikely to help, as reports indicate that the Home Office has booked Mr. Adoboli’s flight to depart the UK on the 18th of September.

The Guardian’s reporting on this story can be found here.

UK – Immigration Rules Double in Length

It has been reported that the UK immigration rules have changed so frequently since 2010 that they have essentially doubled in length.  Successive Home Secretaries in that time have tried to push forward the Government’s attempt to promote certainty of immigration outcomes by restricting appeal rights and wording the rules more precisely.  However it would appear that the net result of all the changes has been to make the immigration rules less transparent and more confusing even to lawyers and judges.    There have even been reports of poorly drafted rules having to be amended shortly after publication.  More applicants have had to resort to lawyers for their visa applications, as it becomes harder and harder to navigate the rules independently.

A review and simplification of the UK immigration rules is overdue; not of course to make yet more changes and further complicate the situation, but to take a good hard look at what the rules have become, so that comprehensive changes can be made to help them achieve the aim of certainty without the unfortunate side effect of excessive complexity.

The former UK home secretary Amber Rudd referred the rules to the Law Commission in December 2017, and they are currently thought to be working on simplifying the rules.

The Guardian’s reporting of this story can be found here.

Russia:  E-visas Introduced for Russian Far East

Effective 1st September 2018, E-visas were introduced which are valid for travel to the Russian Far East.  These visas can be obtained for free online, without the need to visit a Russian Consular Office, and are expected to improve tourism into Russia.  Prior to this development, it was only possible to enter Russia on e-visas through Knevichi airport in Vladivostok.

The full story as reported by Visa House can be found here.

Germany: New Visa For Vocational Skills Considered

The German government is considering a review of its visa and immigration system in the light of the current climate of low unemployment and an ageing population, which is making it difficult for employers to fill medium skilled roles.  The current system in Germany allows people to come into the country if they have formal qualifications and a highly skilled job.  It also allows people to enter Germany to look for highly skilled job on a job-seekers visa and then secure a job in-country.  What it does not provide for is for migrants to access jobs which require vocational as opposed to academic qualifications.  Yet, this category accounts for 60 percent of available jobs in Germany.

The proposed new system is yet to be fleshed out.  What is known is that it is to take into consideration such things as a person’s qualifications, age, language skills and financial situation.  Yet, is it not to be a points based system.  The UK, Australia and Canada by contrast currently operate points based systems, allocating points to migrants based on such criteria as their formal qualifications, age, availability of a job offer, etc.  If a person scores enough points, they get the visa, and there is little or no discretion in the application of the rules.  It will be interesting to see what Germany comes up with as an alternative to the points based system favoured by others, and whether it will achieve the aim of attracting medium skilled workers to their economy while reasonably restricting migrant access to social welfare packages.

USA: Texas Judge Gives Reprieve to DACA

A judge in Texas has refused to rule against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, despite stating in his judgement that he is not convinced of the legality of the program itself.  Rather, his decision was based on the reasoning that it is already in effect and that to roll it back would cause hardship to many.  He effectively called on Congress to take action to save the popular program and not rely on intervention from the courts.

CNN’s reporting of this story can be found here.

USA: US Plans For Detention of Families

The US government is actively making plans to enable the long term detention of migrant families –including children – on US soil.  This is in violation of a long-standing court agreement under which families were detained for only short periods of time, the aim being to avoid keeping children in custody for more than 20 days.  These moves come on the heels of the much publicised detention of children in the US and the subsequent court order requiring the government to reunite those children with their families.  The US Department of Homeland Security has expressed the opinion that current laws incentivise migrant families to enter the US illegally.  They are hoping with the new approach to strengthen the US Federal Government’s ability to pursue immigration enforcement, including long term detention of families until their immigration cases have been resolved.

USA today’s reporting of this story can be found here.

Thailand: Visa run across border curbed by new rules

The immigration authorities in Thailand have restricted the number of times that one can cross the border at Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia for the purpose of visa renewal.  These visa runs will now be permitted for a maximum of 2 times per calendar year.  The reason for this change is to encourage people to apply for visas in advance, instead of relying on getting a 30-day visa at the immigration post upon arrival at the border.  This restriction applies just to land crossings and not arrivals via the airport.   In the latter scenario, people will still be allowed to obtain 30-day visas up to 6 times per calendar year.

The full story as reported on the Thai Embassy Website can be found here.

Saudi Arabia: Indian Airline Crew to Keep Passports Upon Entry

Indian airline personnel have welcomed good news from the Saudi Immigration authorities, as their passports will no longer be held by immigration officers while they are in transit via Saudi Arabia.  Previously, their passports would be held up on arrival in Saudi Arabia and released to them upon departure, causing complications for the individuals during their brief transit.  Affected airline staff were, for instance, unable to produce their passports as ID during routine security checks in the city and were unable to present their passports at their hotels.  After representations from India, the decision has been made to take biometric information from the airline personnel in lieu of their passports.

The full story as reported in the Times of India can be found here.

USA – Man threatened with deportation after 34 years in the US

The Detroit Free Press has reported that a Nigerian who faces severe physical challenges has been threatened with deportation to the country of his birth despite his not having lived there for 34 years.  The man in question, 48 year old Mr. Francis Anwana, reportedly entered the US aged 14 on a student visa and does not have current legal immigration status in that country.   However, it has been argued by (his lawyers) that deportation will result in a “death sentence” for Mr. Anwana, presumably due to the extent of his physical challenges coupled with his unfamiliarity with his home country.

The full story can be read here.

Green Cards – Trump Announces Planned Changes

USA: President Donald Trump joined forced on Wednesday with Senators David Perdue of  Georgia and Tim Cotton of Arkansas to promote a new bill, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, touting a skills-based points system for obtaining US Green Cards.   Under the current system, Green Cards can be obtained via family sponsorship, job sponsorship, the Diversity Lottery, and on compassionate humanitarian grounds.  Most are obtained via family ties.

The proposed new law would make process changes, awarding points for the fulfillment of certain requirements and determining eligibility based on the points awarded.  Consequently:

  • Highly skilled people would be prioritized
  • Extended family members would be de-prioritized
  • Spouses and children would still be supported
  • The Green Card lottery (diversity program) would be curtailed or scrapped
  • English -speakers would be favored
  • Refugees admitted would be capped at 50,000 per year
  • Overall numbers of green cards issued would be expected to drop by 41% in the first year, and 50% over a 10 year period.

This is just the initial announcement of a proposal which the President and Senators Perdue and Cotton support.  It is not law, nor will it be unless and until it is introduced to the Senate and the House of Reps, passed both houses with the required majorities and is signed into law.  The road ahead is predicted to be rocky for the bill, especially because a very similar bill was introduced earlier this year, but found little or no support.  Senator Lindsey Graham has already voiced his opposition to the bill, saying that it would devastate the economy in his constituency, as the agriculture and tourism industries of South Carolina rely heavily on immigrant workers.

It is worth noting that Australia, Canada and the UK already have points-based immigration systems to various extents and these have arguably worked well for those countries.  However, none of them rely solely on the points-based structure and have aspects of their immigration programs e.g. family applications determined by other means.