Major concession announced in response to litigation challenging the 10 year route to settlement for young people who came to the UK as children

The 10-year route to settlement (10YRS) was introduced in 2012 for people who cannot meet the requirements of other immigration rules but whose removal would breach their rights to private or family life.  These include where a young person aged 18-24 years has spent more than half their life in the UK.

Subsequent to research funded by a Strategic Legal Fund grant in August 2018 secured by the Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) at Islington Law Centre on the impact of the 10YRS on children and young people, a number of young people on the 10YRS lodged judicial review claims challenging refusals to grant them ILR. In those claims they documented the devastating impact of the 10YRS on young people and challenged the Immigration Rules and Policy that those on the 10YRS would only be granted ILR in very exceptional cases. Many of the young people were supported by the migrant youth-led organisation, We Belong, who also provided extensive evidence in support of the challenge and who have been leading a successful campaign against the 10YRS for a number of years.

In response to the legal challenge and to the campaigning work by We Belong, the Home Office has today announced a major policy concession in relation to the 10YRS, accepting that some applicants should qualify for ILR after having completed 5 years leave to remain, rather than 10 years. 

The Home Office has by its concession accepted a central argument made in the challenge that the public interest factors which underpin the longer 10-year route to settlement - specifically the need to serve a longer probationary period before qualifying for settlement and a principle of encouraging lawful compliance – will be less relevant for some applicants so that it would not be proportionate to expect them to complete a 10 year probationary period before qualifying for ILR, particularly those applicants who were born in the UK or entered as children and are now young adults who are fully integrated into society in the UK and cannot be considered responsible for previous non-compliance with immigration laws. 

The Home Office concession includes published criteria for granting early settlement for this cohort after completing 5 years leave to remain. To be eligible, an applicant must (i) be aged 18-24 years and have spent half their life in the UK (discounting any period of imprisonment), (ii) have been born in the UK or entered as a child, (iii) have held 5 years leave to remain and (iv) be eligible for further leave to remain under paragraph 276ADE(1) of the immigration rules.  Their application for an early grant of indefinite leave to remain will then be considered with reference to factors such as length of residence in the UK or the strength of connections and integration, to assess whether early settlement may be granted without the need for a longer probationary period or incentives for lawful compliance. 

For all other applications, applicants may continue to apply for ILR where there are particularly exceptional or compelling reasons, such as where the impact of the 10YRS on them or affected children are particularly serious.   

Islington Law Centre and Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU) represented the applicants in the legal challenges, in which Michelle Knorr and Zoe Harper of Doughty Street Chambers were instructed, led by Paul Bowen QC of Brick Court Chambers.