On What Grounds Can a Refugee Status be Cancelled or Revoked?
For any refugee who has escaped great dangers in their home country and has been given refuge in the UK, then to discover the protection has subsequently been revoked would come as a huge blow. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, this is a power the Home Office will exercise if they believe they have strong grounds to do so. In this article, we will review the circumstances which may lead to a refugee who has been given protection in the UK having their protected status revoked.
The policy guidance used by Home Office caseworkers to assess whether a refugee should have their status revoked is publicly available on the government website. As such, there is no secret as to why revocation may be considered.
On what grounds will the Home Office revoke refugee protection?
It is important to state from the outset that the removal of refugee protection may not be related to the actions or behaviour of the refugee themselves. It may simply be that the Home Office considers that there is no longer any danger to the refugee in their home nation, and hence any need for them to be protected in the UK.
The official guidance states that the intention of the refugee revocation policy is “to maintain a fair and efficient immigration system that ensures protection is provided for as long as it is needed”. In does, however, then go on to say that it is also intended to ensure that the Home Office “does not allow those who obtain status by deception, or who commit serious crimes to continue to benefit from refugee status”.
According to sections 333A and 339 of the immigration rules, a “person’s grant of refugee status under paragraph 334 [the grounds for granting refugee status] shall be revoked or not renewed if any of paragraphs 339A to 339AB apply. A person’s grant of refugee status under paragraph 334 may be revoked or not renewed if paragraph 339AC applies”.
Section 339, which outlines the grounds for revocation, can be summarised as follows:
Ground 1: The Refugee Convention ceases to apply
This ground for revocation of your refugee status will be considered if you have:
- re-acquired protection of your country of nationality
- had lost your nationality but have voluntarily re-acquired it
- acquired a new nationality and enjoy the protection of the country of your new nationality;
- you have voluntarily re-established yourself in the country which you left
- you can no longer continue to refuse to benefit from the protection of your country of nationality (i.e. because reasons for you being recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist). This also applies if you are stateless and you can return to your country of the previous residence.
It is important to note that the Home Office will need to take into account whether the changing circumstances of the refugee are temporary or long-term. If they are temporary, it is unlikely that these reasons can be used to revoke refugee status.
Ground 2: Exclusion from the Refugee Convention
The Secretary of State may revoke your refugee status if they believe that you should have been or have been excluded, from being a refugee because you no longer qualify as a refugee under regulation 7 of The Refugee or Person in Need of International Protection (Qualification) Regulations 2006. This regulation states that a person is not deemed to be a refugee if they fall within the scope of Article 1 D, 1E or 1F of the Geneva Convention. Article 1F includes the following exclusion clauses:
- if the individual has committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, as defined in the international instruments drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes;
- they have committed a serious non-political crime outside the country of refuge prior to his admission to that country as a refugee
- they have been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations
If you need further guidance on how the Geneva Convention will apply in your circumstances, it is essential to engage the services of an immigration lawyer.
Ground 3: Misrepresentation
Another ground for the revocation of refugee status by the Home Office relates to ‘misrepresentation’. This will apply if the Secretary of State believes that when applying for refugee status, misrepresentation or omission of facts, including the use of false documents, were important in the successful granting of protection.
Ground 4: Danger to the UK
Refugee status may also be revoked if the Home Office has ‘reasonable grounds’ for regarding a protected person as a danger to the security of the United Kingdom. It may also apply if the refugee has been convicted of a very serious crime, and as a result, they represent a danger to the country. Section 339BA also states that where the Home Office is considering revocation of refugee status on these grounds, the refugee will be informed in writing and given the opportunity to explain why they should continue to be protected, either in the form of a written statement or a personal interview.
If it can be argued that the actions that led to you being considered a ‘danger’ can be linked to coercive actions by people in your home nation, from whom you are supposed to be protected by being the UK, it may be possible to make a successful case for being allowed to retain your refugee status.
Until a refugee secures indefinite leave to remain after five years in the UK, there is always a chance that their refugee status can be revoked. As such, it is always advisable to secure the services of immigration Solicitors if you have any concerns that your protected status may be revoked, or if you have already been advised this is the case by the Home Office. In many cases, especially where a strong argument can be made and robust evidence provided, it should be possible to retain your refugee status.