UK visa consultation 'could be unlawful'

31 Jan 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A law firm has suggested that the government consultation on UK visa changes could be unlawful.

The government's consultation on UK visas for students could be unlawful, a law firm has suggested.

Immigration specialists Penningtons conducted their own review of data held by higher education agencies before responding to the Home Office consultation.

Last week (January 28th), immigration minister Damian Green urged any remaining interested parties to respond to the consultation regarding UK visas for international students.

He stated that the government is keen to maintain a flow of "high calibre students with a genuine desire to study". However, Mr Green explained that the country "must be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay".

Penningtons, meanwhile, has suggested that the coalition's plans to overhaul the system could be supported by misleading data, the Times Education Supplement reported.

"It is our opinion that research and the data cited have been manipulated in order to try and justify the proposed changes," the legal firm explained.

According to the lawyers, the consultation must satisfy three conditions in order for it to be lawful. Firstly, there must be legitimate expectation that it is fair; secondly, adequate reasons must be provided for all policy decisions and finally, all considerations raised by respondents must be taken into account.

In addition to this, if the consultation was ever taken to a judicial review, a judge would be required to consider whether the correct procedure had been followed and if the ultimate decision could be considered to be rational.

It its response to the government consultation paper, Penningtons stated: "It is simply impossible for there to be a fair consultation process when there is widespread confusion as to what the government wants to achieve."

The law firm clarified that the government is using confusing rhetoric in areas of the process, which means that respondents are unaware of the purpose of the discussion.