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Home Office wrong to stop asylum seekers working in UK

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The Guardian reports that a trafficked woman who asked a judge for the right to work as a cleaner has won a landmark victory in the high court.

The ruling on Friday paves the way for tens of thousands who are denied the right to work by the Home Office to have their requests to take up jobs considered. Asylum seekers and victims of trafficking are generally denied the right to work by the Home Office. Many wait several years for their cases to be determined.

The trafficking victim, 35, was brought to the UK on 31 December 2017. After escaping from her traffickers and approaching the Home Office for protection the Home Office locked her up in an immigration detention centre and said there were no reasonable grounds that she was a victim of trafficking.

She has been diagnosed with PTSD, severe depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

A year later, officials reversed this decision. She was offered a job as a cleaner. In May 2019, and again in January 2020, the Home Office refused her the right to work.

She was granted refugee status on 5 October and given a work permit on 13 October.

In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Bourne considered the wider issues about the right to work for asylum seekers and victims of trafficking.

He found that the lack of reference to discretion to grant permission to work in the Home Office guidance created a real risk that requests for work may not be properly considered.

The judge ruled that the Home Office’s permission to work policy was unlawful and needed to be amended as officials have discretion to depart from the immigration rules and grant permission to work to those whose skills are not on the shortage occupation list.

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