Home Office Immigration Genuine Students Test

Genuine Students Test


Most people will not have noticed, unless you are one of the thousands of international students still willing to pay a fortune to study in the UK, that in July 2013 the Home Office introduced a seemingly innocuous phrase into the immigration rules: ‘The entry clearance officer must be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine student’ (paragraph 245ZV(k) of the Immigration Rules, HC 395 as amended).

It would have been helpful if the Home Office had also provided some guidance about how exactly an immigration officer is meant to assess whether or not an applicant is a genuine student! In the absence of such guidance we now have immigration officers being very inventive and entirely illogical in applying the new rules. In deciding whether or not applicants are ‘genuine’ students, entry clearance officers have almost a carte blanche to refuse a visa. There have already been instances of students being refused because one did not know the name of the football team in the English city in which he intended to study, while another was refused solely because his father had never studied before. The immigration officer obviously came to the conclusion that as the father was uneducated there was no reason why his children should seek an education either! The Home Office says that they will carry out 100,000 of these interviews this year alone. It must be pretty daunting being a foreign student willing to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of Pounds in the UK and having to convince to an entry clearance officer of your ‘genuineness’. All because a minority of students have historically breached immigration rules.

The genuine student test, combined with the impending new landlord checks announced in October 2013 and coming immediately after the ‘go home’ vans campaign and the latest ‘Go Home’ text message campaign is unlikely to maintain UK education as a world leader for much longer. Let us not forget that foreign students spend an incredible £10.2bn per year in tuition fees and living expenses in the UK and their contribution to the UK economy is immense. They create jobs and pay for huge advances in our universities and yet they are being treated like criminals even before they arrive.

If the Home Secretary really wants to make foreigners feel ‘unwelcome’ in the UK then she must be commended on a job very well done. It is however unfortunate that in this day and age, while we live in a truly multi-cultural society, a Government can be permitted to wreak such havoc across our immigration system. The effects of this will be felt for generations to come in the UK and those effects will not be pleasant. Pursuing such a meaningless tirade of abuse against legal migrants contributing to our society will leave the UK behind in all manner of development as the rest of the world speeds past. Foreign students have a huge contribution to make to our economy and it is not just in spending money. Many of our most successful economic barons came from immigrant backgrounds. People should realise that these actions do little if indeed anything to stop the tide of illegal migration. If the Government truly want to stop illegal migration to the UK they should concentrate on those entering and staying illegally, not students bringing money, assets and education to the UK. Despite all these new rules and vans and text messages, let us not lose sight of the fact that it is easier to hop on a lorry bound for Dover than to get a student visa and bring £50,000 to the UK to spend legally!

The real message we are sending out to the world is, we are a nation that welcomes illegal entrants and state spongers but if you have something to offer us, we don’t want you! Or in the words of the Home Secretary ‘Go Home’!

Home Office Guidance to Entry Clearance Officers relating to ‘Genuineness’ test for Students

Home Office new interviews for students

Illegal Immigrant Text Message Campaign

Illegal Immigrant Text Message Campaign

David Cameron today stated that he ‘agrees with the principle’ of sending text messages to suspected illegal immigrants. These text messages suggest the recipients are illegal immigrants, despite some going to the wrong people.

This is the latest attempt by the Government to single out suspected illegal immigrants and put pressure onto them to leave the UK. It is part of the new ‘hostility’ toward illegal immigrants proposed by the Secretary of State earlier this month.

According to the Home Office only 14 people out of a total of 58,800 contacted were mistakenly asked if they had overstayed their visas.

But our experience suggests that the true number of people wrongly contacted is far higher. Several of our clients have received these text messages and they have caused considerable anxiety. In one case a Jamaican man who has been living in the UK for the past 47 years received a similar text message. The effects of the message on him were all the more serious as he had only weeks before been diagnosed with cancer. He immediately consulted us and we are taking urgent steps to seek to rectify his situation. We take the view that these text messages are indiscriminate and potentially harmful. Many otherwise law abiding people are receiving messages like this and they don’t know where to turn to for help. Often the text messages are followed us by phone calls from the Home Office demanding to know what arrangements the person has made for leaving the UK.

The indiscriminate approach is of grave concern. The fact is that not all illegal migrants fall into the same category. Some of our clients were brought to the UK 40 or 50 years ago from former colonies by their parents who have long since passed away and these people have been leading otherwise settled and normal lives, never realising that their immigration status is unclear. Many of these people never even knew they were doing anything wrong until they received the text message and sought professional help. Although we as lawyers are able to do a lot to help these people, the effects of receiving such a frightening text message and telephone call cannot be underestimated. We fear that some people receiving such messages might be driven to extreme measures.

Labour described the government’s tactic as “shambolic and incompetent”.

Some people suspected of having outstayed their visas were sent a text reading: “Our records show you may not have leave to remain in the UK. Please contact us to discuss your case.” Our enquiries suggest that the Home Office is obtaining details of suspected illegal immigrants from the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Benefits Agency as well as HMRC. Although we applaud any attempt to control migration and create a safer society, some of the tactics used by the Home Office in recent months are less than tactile.

The prime minister’s official spokesman acknowledged that the wording of the texts has changed since the campaign began.

Originally, they had included the phrase: “You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain.”

Anyone receiving such a text message should seek immediate and urgent independent legal advice from a specialist immigration solicitor. If you have received such a message and wish to discuss your circumstances with an expert immigration solicitor call 020 8401 7352 during working hours to arrange an appointment at our office.

For more information on this new campaign see:


BBC – Atmosphere of Fear

Sky News – Go Home Texts

Independent – Anti-Racism Campaigner & Immigration Caseworker sent ‘Go Home’ texts by Home Office

BBC – Migrants Wrongly told to leave the UK

BBC – Home Office Go Home Adverts Banned

Belfast Telegraph – Complaints over texts to immigrants

Politics.co.uk – After the racist van the racist texts

ITN – Civil rights campaigner receives Go Home text


Minimum income threshold for family migrants – applications ‘on hold’

Minimum income threshold for family migrants – applications ‘on hold’


Since 26 July 2013, the Home Office has put on hold all applications for leave to remain by spouses and partners including children applying through the family route where the applicant has not met the minimum financial requirements. This has been because of the 5 July 2013 High Court judgment in a legal challenge to the minimum income threshold for spouses/partners and children applying in the family route.

This applies to non-EEA national spouses/partners and children applying to settle in the UK with someone who is already resident here. These applications will continue to be put on hold until the case is finally determined by the Courts.

The hold on decision-making applies to applications made under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules where the application would be refused solely because the rules relating to the minimum income threshold are not met, including where relevant the evidence requirements in Appendix FM-SE. The same approach is being applied to a small number of adoption cases which would be refused on this ground alone.

Applications which meet the Rules or which fall to be refused on other grounds, such as requirements for English language or a genuine and subsisting relationship, are continuing to be processed and decided as normal.

To help answer some frequently asked questions:

Can I still submit a spouse/partner or child application under Appendix FM?

Yes. You can continue to apply, but you should take into account the fact that if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will put your application on hold until the legal challenge is finally determined by the Courts.

Can I still submit my application in person at a public enquiry office in the UK?

Yes, but you should take into account the fact that if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will put your application on hold until the legal challenge is finally determined by the Courts.

What happens if my case is on hold and I want to withdraw my application?

If you have already applied and now wish to withdraw your application, you may do so. The Home Office will not refund your application fee.

What happens if my case is on hold and I want to get my passport returned because I need to travel?

If you are applying from overseas, you may contact the relevant visa post to request the return of your passport to travel, while your application remains on hold.
If you are applying from within the UK and wish to travel outside the Common Travel Area, you may contact the Home Office to request the return of your passport but the Home Office will treat your application as withdrawn. We will not refund your application fee.

How long will cases be put on hold?

Until the legal challenge is finally determined by the Courts. The Court of Appeal has agreed to a request from the Home Office to expedite its appeal, but it is a matter for the Court how quickly the appeal is considered. It may take several months at least.

What happens if I meet the income threshold requirement?

If we assess that you meet all the rules which apply to your case, including the income threshold requirement where this applies, your application will be granted.

Am I still required to meet the income threshold requirement or can I apply knowing that I do not meet it?

You can apply, but if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will put your application on hold until the legal challenge is finally determined by the Courts.

Are all adoption cases affected?

No, only applications required to meet the minimum income threshold under paragraph 314(i)(a), 314(i)(d), 316A(i)(d) or 316A(i)(e) of Part 8 of the Immigration Rules made on or after 9 July 2012. Adoption applications which do not have to meet the minimum income threshold are unaffected.

Are other family categories affected, like adult dependent relatives or spouses on the two-year probationary period?

No, there is no effect on applications which do not need to meet the income threshold requirement. Those cases will continue to be assessed against the rules which apply to them.

If for any reason you are concerned that your application for leave to remain lacks any of the requirements of the Immigration Rules you should seek independent legal advice on the validity of your application and possible solutions to your circumstances. To arrange an appointment to discuss your immigration status with us please telephone 020 8401 7352 to book an urgent appointment.

New Approved English language tests for applications under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the points-based system

Today the Home Office (the former UK Border Agency) have made some more amendments to the list of approved English language tests for applications made under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the points-based system and for spouse or partner applications.

This new version further changes the amendments made to Appendix O of the Immigration Rules in July 2013, setting out the documents that can be used as evidence by applicants seeking to demonstrate knowledge in English language. Only tests from providers on this list will be accepted as sufficient evidence of knowledge of English language. The new list is effective 18 October 2013:

UKBA new-approved-english-tests 18-10-13


Hungarian Helsinki Committee manual to improve the assessment of credibility in EU asylum procedures

New manual to improve the assessment of credibility in EU asylum procedures

ECRE member Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) has published a training manual on ‘Credibility Assessment in Asylum Procedures’ designed to meet the needs of asylum decision-makers and other asylum professionals. The manual aims at offering a creative and multidisciplinary learning method on credibility assessment.

Credibility assessment is considered to be one of the most challenging aspects of asylum-decision making. According to HHC, in the EU a significant proportion of asylum claims are rejected on credibility grounds, since the determining authority or court does not believe what the applicant says. However, to date there is no common definition of ‘credibility’ in an asylum context and EU law has only set basic principles in this respect.

HHC’s manual not only outlines standards and guiding principles for credibility assessment, based on requirements on EU law and UNHCR guidance, but also gives an overview of the numerous factors that may distort or impact on the use of credibility indicators in practice.

The manual has been written by international experts in the framework of the CREDO project (funded by the European Commission), in cooperation with the UNHCR. This project, coordinated by HHC, aims at improving credibility assessment in EU asylum systems, striving to make the process more structured, objective and protection-oriented.

For further information: