The Times reports that Home Secretary Priti Patel is planning to reduce the threshold for automatic deportation from the UK as part of the forthcoming Sovereign Borders Bill.
What is deportation?
Deportation happens when a non-national is forced to leave the UK under the terms of a Deportation Order, usually because removal is considered to be “conducive to the public good”.
This includes “automatic deportation” under section 32(5) UK Borders Act 2007. Section 32(5) says that the Home Office must make a Deportation Order following a criminal conviction, if a person has been sentenced to at least 12 months in prison.
A person who is deported from the UK cannot return until the Deportation Order has been revoked. They must apply for this in writing.
Deportation is different from “administrative removal”. Administrative removal happens when a person is forced to leave the UK because they do not have any permission to be here. This might be because an application for permission to stay has been refused, or because permission has expired. A person who has been removed from the UK in this way can usually apply for a new visa to return, although they might have to wait until a ban period has expired before they do this.
What is the Home Office proposing?
The report in the Times indicates that that the automatic deportation provisions will be changed so that the Home Office must make a Deportation Order following a sentence of only 6 months.
Crimes that might attract a sentence of 6 months include:
- Possession of an offensive weapon in a public place
- Drink driving
- Possession of class A or B drugs
6 months is also the maximum sentence that can be passed in the Magistrates’ Court. Longer sentences are available for cases tried in the Crown Court. It can be more difficult to get legal aid for a case in the Magistrates’ Court because the means test is stricter.
If you are at risk of deportation
If you have been charged with an offence, then you should ensure that your solicitor is aware of your immigration status, even if you have indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence. If you are not sure about your status, or if you don’t have residence documents, then you might need additional advice. Your solicitor should be able to indicate what sentence you might expect, and if that might involve a prison term.
If you have completed your sentence, but you have not been released because the Home Office wants to deport you, then you might be able to apply for Immigration Bail while you fight your case. Legal aid is not normally available for deportation cases, but you can get free advice about bail applications from Bail For Immigration Detainees: https://www.biduk.org/pages/6-information-for-detainees
You might be exempt from automatic deportation, or you might be able to appeal against a decision to deport you. Please contact me if you need advice about a Deportation Order or appeal.
3 January 2020