It will be alright in the end

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
17 October 2023

We have acted on behalf of a Zimbabwean national who entered the UK in 2002 with entry clearance as a visitor for six months. We were instructed after the applicant, with other solicitors, had made an asylum application in 2006, 2008, attended Court and exhausted his rights of appeal in 2009. He made a further application in 2009 which was rejected with no right of appeal and submitted a further appeal in 2010 and which again was rejected without a right of appeal.

He made a further application in 2012 as a fresh claim and that was refused and issued with a right of appeal. The appeal was heard and dismissed in 2013 and permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal was dismissed and his appeal rights became exhausted again in 2013.

In 2019 he made an application for indefinite leave to remain which was rejected and an application in 2019 again which was refused. He then made an application for leave to remain outside the Rules and that was refused again as it was decided he was not eligible because he was in the UK for less than 20 years and did not satisfy the other requirements of Appendix Private Life, as he was not between the ages of 18 to 25 and it was considered there were no exceptional circumstances in the case.

We obtained a country expert report from Dr Hazel Cameron in relation to Zimbabwe to deal with the fact that certain elements of the case had not been considered by the Home Office to date and that fresh, alternative legal arguments and evidence was now provided. The expert dealt with the decision of the First Tier Tribunal and highlighted the risk to the applicant if he was to return to Zimbabwe. Furthermore, she concluded that given the current situation in Zimbabwe, he should not be expected to relocate, and she did not agree with the Judge’s conclusions that there would be no risk for him to return or to reintegrate.

We submitted a fresh paid application arguing that the application should be successful under Appendix Private Life. We argued that his previous conduct and conviction did not make it undesirable for him to be granted leave to remain and that indeed he has a strong family and private life in the UK to the extent that interference with the right to family life would not be proportionate or in the public interest. In addition to family life, we discussed the applicant’s personal private life given that he has lived in the UK for 20 years and therefore is eligible to apply for leave to remain under the 20 years long residence rule as of 2022. We emphasised that he came to the UK at a young age and spent his whole adult life in the UK relying on family and a friends support network in the UK. We provided further submissions once the Home Office asked for further evidence that our client indeed was in the UK for 20 years. We relied on the Home Office data protection, in other words, their own disclosure which was available for them to consider and we managed to prove that there was evidence that he landed in the UK in January 2002 and that the GCID case record itself demonstrated that he had been in the UK for all this time. The application was successful.

What we have learned from this case

Dr Cameron confirmed that failed asylum seekers would be given an imputed political opinion on their return even after an absence of 20 years and without an in country support network of family and friends available to him, there would be difficulties for integration. She said that the applicant would find the political terrain and the language on the streets unnavigable, leaving him being unable to assimilate irrespective of where he relocates after his return. A returnee with an imputed political opinion would be subjected to post airport monitoring by intelligence operatives on his return to Zimbabwe. She confirmed that he would quickly be encountered at state road blocks after leaving the airport and that it is highly unlikely that he will be able to find any kind of employment in the formal sector on his return and without family support he would be unable to secure any form of income. She dealt with the previous decision of the Court where it stated that it would be reasonable for the applicant to relocate, and she was of the opinion that the risk to him on his return including challenges to reintegration are countrywide and cannot be mitigated against by internal relocation.

She confirmed that since 2017 Zimbabwe can no longer be described as a civilian state having interviewed a human rights lawyer. She also highlighted the risk to him at the airport and she confirmed that the risk to asylum seekers returning from the UK come from both civilians and the military. Finally, she was of the opinion that the greatest political risk to the applicant on his return would be that he would be identified as a potential supporter of the opposition, even if he tried to hide his own political leanings.

She confirmed that the current economic crisis rendered him at risk of falling prey to extreme poverty and internal relocation would provide no sanctuary from such risk as this is countrywide. He will not be able to demonstrate loyalty to the Zanu-PF. Needless to say that the applicant was very happy with the outcome and as the motto of the firm goes “It will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end”.