The most problematic UK immigration application form FLR(FP) is used for many applications involving so-called “private life claims”, including those under the Immigration rules (Appendix FM 10-year partner routes, 5-year and 10-year parent routes, Private life under para 276 ADE), as well as by anyone who just thinks that they might file an application – called applications “outside the rules”.
The position of all of these groups of people is quite different. Applicants under Immigration Rules, if they qualify, are technically entitled to their leave to remain. There is no discretion, although in many cases consideration of those applications will involve a discretionary element, such as, existence of a parental relationship with a child – para EX.1, which enables application without requisite immigration status, or seriousness of prior immigration or criminal offenses. Standard applicant on a 10-year partner route, however, is a spouse of a British citizen and parent of a minor British child, without any residence rights elsewhere in the EU, and without criminal history, with the only reason they cannot file for a LTR as a spouse being simple overstay, or dissipation of a right to reside under EU law they previously had, often by virtue of a prior relationship. (I highlighted some cases here) . In some cases it is failure to meet the financial requirement under 5-year Partner route (you cannot apply to a 10-year route directly from overseas, but you can i the UK, unless you are a visitor).
By and large, these are people who cannot be refused. Their applications usually have been considered in Sheffield at the Temporary Migration Team, and resolved reasonably quickly (4-7 months). HO still likes to send these people ludicrous letters stating they applied outside of the Immigration Rules , or that their application is complex because it raises ECHR issues, but just like it was extensively highlighted in Parliamentary hearings, these letters are usually all a plain lie and are sent in cases with no complexity or issues that can possibly question entitlement.
Then there is a bit of a grey area, eg people who definitely meet the requirements of the Rules for parent/partner 10-year route and EX.1, or under-25 with more than half their life in the Uk requirement – but something in their background affects their suitability, at least potentially – illegal entry or more severe immigration problems, for instance, or a real criminal record (not age-old simple cautions or tickets for failure to pay tube fare). Here also go numerous fake-TOEIC-takers and other people with past student status problems. Their applications are all however also under the Immigration rules, and even further, I am pretty sure it would require an actual Home Office caseworker to assess balancing factors related to suitability in these clearly eligible cases.
But, unfortunately for all these people, they are apparently not the majority of those who file FLR(FP) applications. Majority of those applications are filed by misguided individuals who have no real prospect of succeeding in them, but file in order to stall for time, on advice of unscrupulous advisers, or god knows why. And there are a lot of them, especially given that this is the one application that technically allows for a fee-free destitution claim (none of my clients, even those who may have qualified, have ever made the destitution claim), but that leads to these forms being filed sort of gratuitously by many people. Needless to say, they are hurting themselves a lot, because presently they are unlikely to ever succeed in a human rights claim again, if they have once failed in it — even if later they will have much more grounds for it.
But they have always — well, since 2012 when all the other FLR(FP) categories were brought within the Immigration Rules – been hurting the legitimate filers of these applications, who have a clear entitlement to approval. That is because these pointless FLR FP applications clog the system and contribute to the development of corporate hostility to FLR(FP) applicants within the UKVI, which tends to indiscriminately affect even the most legiotimate applicants clearly entitled under the Rules. In fact the staff are not trained very well (or at all, maybe?) to principally differentiate between these very different categories of filers.
Moreover, since even before 2012, HO was already overwhelmed by “private life claims”, and I can see from people’s SAR disclosures that many of those had been considered at the time by Capita. This produced often hilarious effects, for instance Capita employees did not have a “read” access to CID and were writing to HO to request files and claiming to be still considering applications in situations where the person’s immigration history had since substantially progressed along a completely different route.
Since many of the FLR(FP) categories have been brought into the Immigration Rules in 2012, however, there has always been triage in Sheffield – those applications that appeared to be straightforwardly under the Rules, stayed there, and outside of the Rules applications, as I understand, may have been indeed given to private contractor(s). I am not sure Capita is there anymore, as I discovered recently through a FOI request that HO now has a contract with ATOS to runs its application triage in Durham. They always processed payments. But I now have reasons to believe that since some time in 2017 FLR (FP) applications sent to Durham stay there for triage and some sort of initial assessment by ATOS – not Home office- staff, and many or possibly all, remain there and do not get transferred to Sheffield at all, including straightforward under-the Rules applications on 10-year partner routes by parents of British children. I will explain.
There is a THING in a FLR(FP) application, which for some reason is never ain issue in any of the other forms, even though biometric sections are similar. For an applicant who had not previously been issued with a BRP, it is very easy to overlook one of both checkboxes on page 45, “Do you have a medical or physical condition which may require special arrangements for your biometric features to be recorded?”, and “Is the applicant or dependant 16 years old or more (box) less than 16 years old (box) “. The “page 45” issue is just a thing with these. They are all trained to go straight to that page and see if boxes have been missed, because they often are. I suspect boxes missed is a frequent thing on other applications as well, but for some reason only in these ones it is a problem.
They go through all 60 pages in fact to look for missed boxes, but most people only ever miss one of these two. If any boxes are missed, they are entitled to return the application, keep £25, and refuse to process it, saying application is invalid because it is incomplete (I had never had this happen to any other applications i filed, out of at least a couple of hundred — yet that happened twice with FLR (FP)s which I only filed a handful.) Yet, they do not invalidate the application right away — a couple of years ago when that happened to my client, they sent me a letter — with the biometric invitation, in the same envelope – that basically said “please tick the box”, and my page 45 was attached. Ok. It came from the box 3468 in Sheffield, and no harm was done, I sent it back with box checked, just as the applicant enrolled bio, and he got his leave shortly thereafter. It was a bit silly — after all they could see themselves that he was over 16, especially considering he was applying as a partner, on a basis of parental relationship with his daughter – and the fact that he successfully enrolled biometrics must have meant, surely, that he did not have medical issues preventing him from doing so. So posting me this page was silly, but I shrugged it off. But that was when these were processed in Sheffield, entirely.
Enter the Brave New World, ruled by ATOS or Capita or whoever else these new administratively inept idiots are. An application under 10-year partner route by a mother of two very small british children is filed under Para Ex.1 on 6 June 2017. Biometric invitation is immediately issued and biometrics is enrolled in July 2017. In August, I moved to the new office, and as usual send a change of address to every department, listing their pending applications. Bo box 3468 in Sheffield, for these. Then, for 6 months, nothing happens. In late November 2017, I write to the Home office, — to box 3468 of course – a letter saying things like, hey guys, we haven’t heard anything at all on this application, suspect maybe address issue, once again here is the new address and such like. No answer. In January, a letter is issued – with a Sheffield return address, with our address scriblled in sharpie in giant letters all over an A4+ mailer, like by a 3-year old – that states that the application, 7 MONTHS AFTER IT WAS FILED is being rejected as invalid because it is incomplete, and for failure to respond to their information request. But we, of course, did not receive any request.
The Applicant went to the place they no longer live at, the address given on the application — to which HO was not supposed to write at all – and sadly recovered the missing letter there. This was a standard “page 45” letter, with page 45 attached (even before that, we knew it was page 45, because it was the only page missing from the application form they returned. By that time it’s been EIGHT MONTHS. Now, does it make ANY sense to return application as invalid, for failure to tick a box that she is over 16 years old, by a wife and a mother of two British children? Do they not know she is over 16 because they have her original passport (which they duly kept, and also referred her to G4S for reporting requirements, something i NEVER saw done to a mother of a British child). There was also a box not ticked about whether she had any medical issues preventing her from enrolling biometrics — but who cares, if my then it’d been 6 months since she enrolled biometrics successfully, so clearly there had been no issue? Who cares about the biometric form at all, if bio had been enrolled?
This extreme nastiness made no sense at all, I am sure she’d have a course of action for JR on irrationality basis — but well, they returned the application fee, so of course, a rational person — especially one now required to report to G4S!- woudl rather just re-file the application. However. No one at any point explained, why they were writing to that address, and not to mine, or why they ignored my November letter, or presumably were unaware initially of change of address, or why were they doing all of it 6 months later than they should have been?! But I think I can explain. This is because the file had never been to Sheffield, or to the actual Home Office, until a decision to reject had already been made (or possibly not at all). So all my letters to Box 3468 were read by people who did not have operational control over this application, because a subcontractor, most likely ATOS, had it in their possession in Durham all this time, possibly without direct access to Home Office CID.
Why am I so sure of it? WAIT FOR IT. This is what the return address looked like on the “page 45 letter” that was sent to the client at the end of November.
This is where the return envelope invited return to (the Case ID is no longer in existence so I did not block it out). The client and I also in fact invite someone from the HO to explain this to us.
Any more questions? I am terrified that the UKVI get more incompetent every day, but I am even more terrified that they bump genuine legally meaningful casework to these non-civil servant imbeciles – to whom apparently HMPO work is also bumped off, and they can’t tell the difference. I really do not think that HMPO caseworkers in Durham are handling processing of FLR(FP) applications. But even that would be better than THIS because they’d be civil service employees, and they’d be able to read and write.
I am off to find out what/where the hell is Freeman’s reach and what’s there, what the hell is DPTS 3 and why on earth was not this application in UKVI in Sheffield where it was supposed to be processed..