Section 3C: Limbo Leave

Under Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, if a visa-holder applies to extend their leave to remain in the UK before it expires, they are allowed to stay until the application and all subsequent avenues of appeal are decided. Section 3C operates even though the initial visa may have expired after the submission of the extension application. The application of Section 3C, however, is not always as straightforward. Various clients have consulted our Immigration Team on their legal standing in light of the decision in RA (Iraq) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department. This article clarifies the matter and how it may affect you. 

What is Limbo Leave?

Some migrants find themselves facing removal which cannot be carried out. Due to orders of removal, they lose a valid leave to remain in the UK. For migrants facing deportation, this can be a problem. The case of RA (Iraq) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWCA Civ 850 is instructive. It provides guidance in cases of ‘limbo’ where deportation issues have not yet been issued or where deportation has not been carried out.

Facts of the Case

In 2008, the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) decided to deport RA. At that time, RA held valid leave to remain in the UK. RA decided to appeal. Importantly, it was accepted during the appeals process that RA, who faced deportation, was ‘unreturnable’ to his home country due to legal and administrative obstacles. 

Many migrants are facing a plight similar to RA. Formally deprived of their leave to remain in the UK, such individuals can neither go back to their home country nor can they legally work or reside in the UK. Seen as both “undesirable and unreturnable”, they are stuck. The Court of Appeal, however, has recently shed some much-need clarity.

What the Court of Appeal Decided and How Limbo Leave May Affect You

Separating ‘prospective’ limbo from ‘actual limbo’, the Court found that a case based on limbo could only succeed where a migrant no longer had leave to remain in the UK; potential scenarios do not apply. The court also clarified that a case for limbo could only be made if the deportation of such an individual was actually incapable of being carried out. Stressing that the individual’s circumstances and history must be taken into account, the Court of Appeal held that in such cases of ‘actual’ limbo, due care must be taken. This involves a balancing exercise where the migrant’s protected rights must be looked at when considering the public good. 

RA v The Secretary of State for the Home Department is important for a number of reasons if you find yourselves in a similar scenario. The case recognises the need to protect migrants’ rights. It also gives greater clarity on how our clients’ cases can be approached. With considerable experience under their belt, our Immigration Team offers bespoke service so that any appeal that contests the refusal of your leave to remain is based on specific facts that work in the favour of your case. Our immigration solicitors and barristers are adept at challenging Home Office decisions and have substantial experience in successfully using precedent such as R (Iraq) v SSHD to launch human rights claims to secure clients’ leave to remain in the UK.

Successfully Appealing to Protect Your Leave to Remain in the UK 

The key ingredient to success is having the right support. Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest.

We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of the merit of your case before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you in proceeding with any appeals and ensure that your case is in line with the latest precedent so as to protect your human rights and leave to remain in the UK.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA and LEXLAW are just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is integral to success. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and develop a timely and successful strategy..

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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