Successful judicial review for family stranded in Afghanistan following UK exit


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A British husband, his Afghan wife and their children were left stranded in Afghanistan in August 2021 when a suicide bomb at Karzai International Airport brought the UK government’s evacuation program to a premature end.

The Home Secretary relaxed the usual biometrics requirements during the evacuation program and gave those Afghan dependants who escaped on MOD evacuation flights indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Although the government promised to assist those left behind owing to insufficient space on the aircraft, the Home Secretary’s Afghan Resettlement and Immigration Policy statement stated that she would not consider applications for entry clearance from the dependants of British nationals unless and until they enrolled biometrics – even though it was impossible to enroll biometrics in Afghanistan.

The First Claimant challenged the Home Secretary’s insistence on the biometrics requirement as representing a complete barrier to his wife and children obtaining entry clearance and a breach of his Article 8 rights. At the hearing, the Home Secretary made an undertaking to the Court that she would consider an application without biometrics and deferring the requirement as part of the merits consideration. The Court described this as a “crucially important development” and stated that by the concession the Claimants had achieved “all that [they] could have hoped”.

Regrettably, the Home Secretary has not clarified her policy since the hearing in March. It is hoped that the judgment recording her concession will also assist the estimated 100 British families in hiding in Afghanistan in the same position as them.

 Chris Buttler KC and Zoe McCallum represented the Claimants, instructed by Duncan Lewis.

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