Mandatory Orders made in two Gaza Family Reunion Cases, requiring the Home Office to take decisions on entry clearance applications.

HS is a recognised Palestinian refugee from Gaza who applied to bring his wife and four children to the UK under the refugee family reunion rules. Due to delays by the Home Office in deciding his asylum claim, his family only became eligible to make those applications after the war in Gaza had started. The Home Office, however, refused to decide the applications because his family could not give biometrics in Gaza as the UK Visa Application Centre was closed due to the war. HS’s family face an imminent risk to their lives in Gaza; they are displaced from their home, which was destroyed, and are living in a tent in dire conditions, with no access to clean water or sufficient food and the children are suffering from conflict related illnesses and injuries. The decision refusing to decide their entry clearance applications was challenged in highly expedited judicial review proceedings and on 5 March 2024, on the same day as the full hearing in the claim, the Upper Tribunal quashed the Home Office decisions, found they breached Article 8 ECHR (the right to family and private life) and ordered that the SSHD decide the entry clearance applications within 2 days. The SSHD, however, failed to comply with that Order and following out of hours enforcement proceedings in the High Court, where it was found that the Secretary of State was prima facie in contempt of court, a decision to grant visas was made the following day. The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office are now assisting HS’s family to leave Gaza, so they can join HS. 

The court orders and out of hours ruling are available here (reasons for the Tribunal’s decision are reserved). BBC News coverage is here and here.

RM & Others concerns a family (parents and two children) in Gaza seeking to join their daughter / sibling in the UK. The Home Office again refused to decide their applications for entry clearance because they are unable to give biometrics in Gaza. They are also displaced from their home, and face an imminent risk to their lives in Gaza; just recently a bomb blew out the windows in the building where they are staying injuring the children. Urgent proceedings were lodged challenging the refusal to decide their entry clearance applications without enrolment of biometrics and on 7 March 2024, the Upper Tribunal (IAC) quashed the Home Office decisions, found they breached Article 8 ECHR and ordered that the SSHD ‘pre-determine’ their entry clearance applications (i.e. make a decision on whether to grant entry subject to enrolment of biometrics). 

The court order is available here (reasons for the decision are reserved). 

Michelle Knorr represented HS and his family and RM and her family, together with Finnian Clarke in RM & Others. They were instructed by Anastasia Solopova at the Migrants’ Law Project at Asylum Aid.