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Philip Barth's article "All change on the form front" is partially incorrect as it suggests that the immigration rules change affecting applicants for extension of leave to remain has been fully implemented by the introduction of the proposed forms on 3 June.
At least for the time being, the law in effect has not changed and indeed the Home Secretary has now conceded some of the points made in the article.
The reason for this is the result of the application for judicial review brought in early June by the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association on whose behalf I acted as solicitor. An hour before the application for leave on 6 June, the Home Secretary withdrew the forms and as a result ILPA withdrew its application with costs. In court, counsel for the Home Secretary read out the following statement which makes the position clear:
The Secretary of State has decided to amend the forms currently prescribed for the purposes of Paragraph 32 of HC 395.
The new forms will meet the two substantial criticisms made of the old ones:
i) Where applicants are unable for good reason to provide the documentation required, the new forms will allow them to say so. An application on the new form will be valid, firstly, if it is completed and everything required is provided or, secondly, if it is completed and an adequate explanation is provided as to why such of the required documentation as is not provided is missing.
ii) Those forms which purport to impose requirements not imposed by the rules themselves will be amended so that there is no such conflict with the rules.
It will take some time to prepare and publish the new forms. In the meantime, all clear and unambiguous applications (oral or written) will be treated as valid applications. Until the new forms are prescribed, applicants will be able to use the old forms if they wish and applications on such forms will be treated as valid whether or not they contain all the required documentation provided that they are clear and unambiguous.