These 2015 policy notices from the UK’s “Free Movement Operational Policy” team (formerly the “European Operational Policy Team”) were released in response to a FOI request done through the useful www.whatdotheyknow.com. (Earlier European Policy Notices can be found here.)
Five notices issued to 10 April 2015 were released, several of which are quite interesting!
Disclosure of interviewer’s comments (form ICV 4605) following a marriage interview (Free Movement Operational Policy Notice 01/2015) (link)
On the basis of the case Miah (interviewer’s comments: disclosure: fairness)  UKUT 00515 (IAC), the Home Office now feels obliged to release notes taken during marriage interviews as part of appeal disclosure.
They quote the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 2005 on what they must produce on appeal:
Rule 13(1) of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 2005 provides that the following must be filed with the tribunal when a Notice of Appeal is served:
(c) any other unpublished document which is referred to in a document mentioned in (a) or relied upon by the Respondent;
[bold emphasis added by Home Office in notice]
They claim exceptional situations where “disclosure may not be appropriate”, though it is unclear why identifying information of informants would ever be included in marriage interview notes and why that could not just be redacted.
Reading this notice raises some interesting issues:
- Will they also release marriage interview notes as part of a normal Subject Access Request?
- Do similar rules exist for releasing notes about Immigration Rules marriage interviews, especially given the bolded reference to Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (Procedure) Rules 2005?
Issued: 13 January 2015
The policy team have undertaken a substantive review of all in-country EEA application forms with the objective of making the forms simpler in terms of evidential requirements and more user-friendly. A review of the out of country VAF form used for EEA family permit applications, will take place during the first half of 2015.
Wow, quite a claim, given that the resulting Residence Card application is 129 pages.
Note the coming change for EEA Family Permit applications! VAF form can only be used in North Korea and Cuba, so they must be referring to the online application for an EEA Family Permit. Will the UK will finally address the serious compliance issues outlined in the earlier complaint to the European Commission CHAP(2012)3146 about EEA Family Permit issuance?
The new forms are categorised by the route in which the person is applying (i.e. qualified person, family member, extended family member, permanent residence and derivative rights), [instead of the document being applied for].
Caseworkers should note that applicants are still able to apply using the old forms (or no form at all) and that an application cannot be rejected or refused on this basis alone.
Issued: 29th January 2015
New and Updated Modernised Guidance (original and revised version)
(Free Movement Operational Policy Notice 03/2015) (link)
The new modernised guidance provides up to date and detailed consideration for all decision-makers assessing rights of residence for EEA nationals and their family members. The guidance is arranged according to the route in which the person is applying (i.e. as a direct family member) as opposed to the document being issued (i.e. a residence card). This reflects recent changes made to the application forms (see EOPN 02/2015) and guides both the caseworker and customer more effectively through the consideration process. A list of the revised sections of the guidance is provided below:
- EEA and Swiss nationals: Free movement rights
- EEA nationals qualified persons
- Direct family members of EEA nationals
- Extended family members of EEA nationals
- Family members of EEA nationals who have retained the right of residence
- Derivative rights of residence (link?)
- EEA case law and appeals
- Abuse of rights, fraud and verification of EEA rights of residence (link?)
- Removals and revocations of EEA nationals
- Processes and procedures for EEA documentation applications
The notice provides a summary of modernized guidance, including relevant case law changes for European applications.
The revision to Notice 03/2015 simply removes the following helpful paragraph:
Page 49 sets out guidance on how time spent outside the UK should be considered when calculating the five year qualifying period towards a right of permanent residence in the UK. This guidance aligns the Home Office position more closely with that of other Government Departments, including DWP.
They kindly offer that “Masterclass sessions on the modernised guidance will be available for all decision-makers who require it over the next few weeks. If specific training is required on any section in particular, please email the Free Movement Operational Policy Team mailbox”
This notice refers to “European Casework Instructions (ECIs)” and “Immigration Directorate’s Instructions (IDIs)”. Anyone have links to those?
A separate list of guidance mentions additional modernized Excluding EEA nationals and their families from the UK and European Economic Area (EEA) family permit guidance.
Original issued on 24 February 2015 (and Revision on 26 February 2016)
Amendments to the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 (Free Movement Operational Policy Notice 04/2015) (link)
The focus of this notice is highlighting changes to the Regulations which restrict appeal rights for EU citizens and their family members, for “Revocation of Admission”, and for “Treating EEA nationals as illegal entrants”.
The regulations have been extended to now require “Comprehensive Sickness Insurance” (CSI) for family members of EU students. This is discussed, though there is still no evidence that Home Office has any written criteria for evaluating acceptability of purchased CSI.