ArticleHigh Court dismisses challenge over entry clearance refusal

A Bolivian national who had resided in the UK for over 20 years recently lost a judicial review challenging an entry clearance refusal. The claimant, previously married to a British national, argued that he did not receive the curtailment notice. The case, Escobar v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWHC 1097 (Admin), emphasises the importance of understanding and managing one’s immigration status.

The claimant was initially granted leave to remain as the spouse of a British national on 4 June 2014. He sought to renew this leave in February 2020 and was granted further leave until 12 April 2023. However, on 23 December 2022, his spouse withdrew her sponsorship, leading to a curtailment of his leave, which was set to end on 24 December 2022. The Home Office sent a curtailment notice to the claimant’s provided email address on 25 October 2022, informing him of the cancellation of his leave and advising him to either leave the UK or submit a new application before the curtailment date.

The claimant travelled to Bolivia on 23 December 2022 and was refused entry clearance upon returning to the UK on 24 January 2023. He was detained and subsequently removed to Bolivia the following day. In his witness statement, the claimant acknowledged that the curtailment notice had been sent to his email address but claimed he had not seen it, suggesting that his wife, who had access to his email account, might have deleted the message.

The claimant’s judicial review challenge was based on two main arguments:

  1. Ineffective service of curtailment notice: The claimant argued that the statutory presumption of service had been rebutted since he had not received or seen the email. As a result, the notice should be treated as if it had not been lawfully served, rendering the entry clearance refusal unlawful.
  2. Breach of duty to act fairly: The claimant contended that being unaware of the curtailment decision, he should have been allowed to make representations regarding other reasons for his entry into the UK.

The court accepted that the presumption of service could be rebutted but found that the claimant had not provided sufficient evidence to support this claim. The court highlighted inconsistencies in the claimant’s statements about the email’s absence from his inbox and his failure to obtain evidence from a computer expert. Additionally, the court speculated that the claimant might have been taking a risk by traveling to Bolivia, given that he still had a biometric residence permit valid until 12 April 2023.

Regarding the fairness argument, the court reiterated its disbelief that the claimant had not read the letter. Furthermore, the court emphasised the importance of individuals reading correspondence from the Home Office for public policy reasons.

This case underscores the critical need for individuals to stay informed about their immigration status and take prompt action when circumstances change. The claimant’s experience illustrates the potential consequences of not proactively addressing immigration issues, especially following significant life changes such as the breakdown of a spousal relationship.

For those facing similar challenges or fearing deportation, it is crucial to seek legal advice promptly to explore all available options and ensure compliance with immigration requirements. Proactively managing one’s immigration status can prevent adverse outcomes and provide clarity on the path forward.

Get in touch:  For a comprehensive understanding of your options or queries on UK immigration matters, contact GigaLegal Solicitors at 02074067654 or click here to book a no-obligation consultation with an immigration expert.