A landmark Supreme Court decision has dealt a “hammer blow” to the immigration system, it has been claimed.
The case concerns revised rules for the admission to the UK of migrant workers under what is called the Points-Based System.
The court decided the rules were flawed because a list of skilled occupations crucial to the current system were never laid before Parliament for scrutiny.
Later Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This judgment delivers a hammer blow to the Points-Based System. The court is very clear that ministers must place rules before Parliament for proper scrutiny.
“Their failure to do so over a number of years leaves the immigration system open to ridicule. Thousands of people will not know whether or not they are allowed to stay in the country.”
The Home Office said action would now be taken quickly to remedy the situation. A spokeswoman said: “We will act quickly to ensure the requirements of this judgment are met and that the necessary guidance is transferred into the Immigration Rules.”
The judgment was given in the case of Hussain Zulfiquar Alvi. He entered the UK as a student in 2003 and was later given permission to stay as a physiotherapy assistant until 2009. He applied for further leave to remain in February 2009, a few months after the work permit regime had changed to the Points-Based System.
Mr Alvi’s application was to remain as a Tier 2 “general migrant”. The Home Office sent him a decision letter in February 2010 refusing him leave to remain because, as an assistant physiotherapist, he was not at the required skilled level.
Mr Alvi applied for judicial review, arguing that the list of skilled occupations was not part of the Immigration Rules. His lawyers argued the document containing the list had not been laid before Parliament, as required by the 1971 Immigration Act.
The High Court rejected his challenge, but the Court of Appeal allowed Mr Alvi’s appeal in June last year – and the Supreme Court has now unanimously upheld the appeal court ruling.