Interim Immigration Caps Declared Unlawful

20th December 2010

The interim limits in respect of Tiers 1 and 2, introduced by the coalition government last summer, have been ruled unlawful by the High Court.

In a victory for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and the English Community Care Association, who instigated the legal challenge, the High Court found that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, had attempted to “side-step Parliamentary scrutiny” by issuing the interim limits without first consulting Parliament.

It is, therefore, not the limits itself which have been deemed invalid, but the mechanics by which the coalition government introduced them, with Richard Drabbel QC (representing JCWI) arguing that the Home Secretary has acted outside her powers by introducing the changes without first laying them before Parliament. Lord Justice Sullivan continued:

“in my judgement, no interim limits were lawfully published or specified by the secretary of state for either Tier 1 or Tier 2…there has never been a limit on the number of applicants who may be admitted”

Immigration Minister Damien Green has set out the coalition government’s response:

“Today’s judgment will have no impact on the permanent limit on non-European workers the government will introduce next April. This ruling is about process, not policy… We will set this right in the next few days to ensure we can continue to operate an interim limit.”

How the coalition government will address this ruling remains to be seen, however it is clear that it wishes to continue with a system of limits between now and April 2011, when a more permanent immigration cap is likely to be launched.

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