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High Court makes ruling on Home Office Asylum Seekers policy

Following a recent court case, the High Court has ruled that the Home Office is unlawfully preventing asylum seekers from working while awaiting a decision on their claims. The case revolved around a woman who was trafficked into the UK in December 2017 before escaping and applying to the Home Office for protection. Although her claims were initially rejected, the decision was reversed in 2018 and she was recognised as being a victim of domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. During this period, the woman sought employment as a cleaner, but was denied as current Home Office policy states that that although asylum seekers may apply for permission to work where they have been waiting for a decision on their claim for more than a year, this may only be granted subject to jobs included on the Shortage Occupation list, a list of skilled – mainly post-graduate jobs comprising of only 1 per cent of the jobs market.

The woman proceeded to present a claim for judicial review, challenging the legality of the policy. It is this challenge that has led to the recent ruling in the conclusion of the case. In the judgement, Mr Justice Bourne stated that it seemed “reasonable” to assume that very few if any of the individuals who come to the UK in circumstances like the claimant would be able to occupy the limited positions on the Shortage Occupation list, and that the policy guidance was unlawful in that it failed to identify that the Home Office has discretion to allow asylum seekers to work in jobs outside the Shortage Occupation list, for example in cases where they are trafficking victims and working would assist their recovery.

“The court has upheld our right to work policy as lawful and that the claimant was not discriminated against in this case. We note, however, the ruling with regards to the guidance given to caseworkers, which we will consider carefully, including whether to appeal further.

“We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.”

Home Office Spokesman

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