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Getting served with a deportation notice can be a stressful and scary experience. With over a decade of experience in representing individuals in removal / deportation proceedings, we can provide a full list of your options if you wish to fight for your right to stay in the UK. Rachel has extensive experience in court hearings, injunctions to stop removal,
If you or a family member is facing removal from the United Kingdom, you'll need an experienced solicitor to fight the case. Here's what to expect.There are two major misconceptions that people facing deportation or removal proceedings have. They tend to think either that;
When you need help with your immigration case, don't take chances just by thinking it will go away, and don't risk having problems later on just to save money now. We're living in a time of tight Immigration rules, and the UK is grappling with Brexit and Windrush - there is more scrutiny on immigration applications than ever before.
It can be an extremely worrying time if you have received a notice that the Home Office intends to deport you. A notice of a Decision to Deport is served on a non-British national whose presence in the UK is considered to not be conducive to the pubic good. This can be the case where you are a repeat offender of serious criminal offences or if you have been given a prison sentence of at least 12 months. If you do get a prison sentence of more than 12 months then the Home Office are required to start deportation proceedings against you automatically.
Therefore, if following a conviction at court you are sentenced to a prison sentence of at least 12 months then you should immediately start to prepare your challenge against deportation proceedings if you hope to continue living in the UK after your prison sentence. This is the point at which you may wish to instruct a specialist immigration Solicitor.
The rules around deportation are very strict and the starting point is that it is in the public interest to remove certain foreign national criminals from the UK.
However, there are exemptions to deportation and it is possible to challenge deportation proceedings. However, if you are handed down a prison sentence of four years or more then it will be extremely difficult to challenge deportation proceedings. You will be required to show "very compelling reasons" why you should not be deported. If you are an EEA
national then different rules against deportation will apply in your case. It is much more difficult to deport someone from the EEA.
So, at any point before the end of your sentence the Home Office will write to you and ask why you believe you should not be deported. You will be able to agree to your deportation or you will have to give written reasons as to why you should not be deported. When the Home Office do write to you they will only give you a few weeks to respond.
So what will happen going forward? If you agree to be deported from the UK then you will be requested to sign a document confirming your agreement. If you have objected to your deportation then the Home Office will consider your reasons; they will either agree that deportation is not appropriate in your circumstances or they will not agree and make a deportation order against you.
If a deportation order is made then any leave to remain that you had previously will be cancelled - even if you had indefinite leave to remain. You will then be in the United Kingdom as an "Overstayer" with the same restrictions on your activities.
So what are your options?
1. If a deportation order is made against you then you may decide to appeal. The Home Office decision letter will inform you whether you have the right of appeal and whether you can appeal from within the UK or whether you must leave the UK and appeal from abroad.
2. If you are not given the right of appeal from within the UK then you must consider whether to ask the court to intervene by way of a judicial review.
A judicial review is when the judge looks at the lawfulness of the decision made by the Home Office. Bear in mind that the role of the court is a review of the way the decision was made; not whether the decision is right or wrong. You will need to think carefully about starting a judicial review as if you lose the case, the court could order you to pay the legal fees of the Home Office.
Whilst all this is going on the Home Office can keep you in immigration detention which can start at the end of your prison sentence. A deportation order allows for you to be detained pending your removal from the UK. If you are detained and your prison sentence has finished then you can apply for immigration bail. You can apply yourself, instruct a Solicitor or there are often charities at Immigration Detention Centres which can represent you free of charge.
Unfortunately, deportation proceedings can take a long time - often many months to reach a conclusion. UK deportation law is set to fall in favour of deportation - so the Home Office and the courts take a lot of persuading to find in favour of a foreign national criminal. It will be necessary to provide strong, convincing evidence which is mostly from independent sources.
It may be appropriate to obtain expert evidence also to support your case.
In typical deportation proceedings things can happen very quickly even after months of no real activity. There are many stages to challenging a deportation order. Instructing Solicitors who have experience in deportation cases can help you to understand the process and keep abreast of what is going on.
Honestly? You need to think long and hard about whether to fight a Deportation Order. The legal costs can be prohibitive.
An application to oppose a Deportation Order can succeed based on human rights grounds such as the right to family life and the length of time you have lived in the UK.
The Home Office will also consider any claim to asylum that you put forward. But remember, here independent evidence really is key as the question will be asked as to why this was not raised earlier, if you only wait until the very end of the process to raise an asylum claim.
If you do consider that you have a real fear for your life or safety if you are returned to your country of origin then you should raise this at the earliest opportunity.
If you are affected by anything in this article then you need to take immediate action – delay is the enemy of success.
Rachel Okello is a UK based solicitor with Rogols Solicitors. She specialises in complex immigration matters which have a family & private life element. She has expertise in helping migrants to regularise their status and in challenging deportation.
Immigration court proceedings are less formal than normal court proceedings. No jury will be present, less scripted legal language needs to be used, and everyone generally understands that the immigrant may not be familiar with UK legal procedures. The immigration judge (IJ) is expected to act in an impartial manner. That means that he or she is not supposed to automatically side with the solicitor who will be there for the Home Office, but to consider both the HO's arguments and the immigrant's before coming to a decision.
That is where the good news ends, however. The IJ is not going to think up legal arguments for you, nor help you present your case. The judge may not even know about circumstances in your case that might warrant a favourable decision or an exercise of discretion -- and, with a busy court, may not have the time to question you to find out.
In short, if you show up in court without leave to remain -- perhaps because you are in the United Kingdom without permission or have been convicted of a crime even though you have lawful residence -- and you can't come up with any reason why you shouldn't be deported other than, "I work hard and have a family here," the judge may have no choice but to agree to your deportation. The judge usually does not make a decision straightaway. You will usually get a decision after a few weeks.
A solicitor will, before the hearing, spend the time to discover whether the Home Office care against you is lawful and whether any particular circumstances in your life would warrant defending your deportation. Because of complexities in the immigration laws, these possibilities may not be apparent to you, even after reading up on immigration law matters. The Solicitor may, for example:
Even if you don’t believe that you might qualify for one of these grounds, a solicitor can help you make the strongest argument possible. The solicitor will fill out any required forms, help prepare documents to backup your statements, advise on supporting documents, and prepare you and any witnesses for the court hearing.
Even if the judge denies the case, having a solid amount of information on the record will make your chances of a positive decision on appeal much stronger. After all, this may be your one and only chance to fully present your case and legal arguments. Appeals do not give you a chance at a whole new hearing of your case, they just focus on whether the Home Office made the right decision given the information presented to him or her.