The Home Office have published new guidance on stateless applications. The guidance makes application forms mandatory and makes provisions for cases in which the Home Office would refuse the application without an interview. Revised statelessness guidance states that statelessness occurs for a variety of reasons and we have clients who became stateless due to nationality legislation, conflicting laws between states and the absence of proof of birth origins or legal identity. As possession of nationality is considered essential for full participation in society. Stateless people are not necessarily at risk of persecution or serious harm, but they are potentially vulnerable to serious discrimination.
The Home Office drew up guidance based on the UNHCR guidelines set out in the 2014 handbook on protection of stateless persons. As of February all applications must be made on the specified application form FLR(S) which is available on the Gov.UK website in accordance with paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules. Any other attempt to make an application cannot be accepted. Applications for leave on the basis of statelessness will not be accepted for consideration until any asylum claim has been finally determined or withdrawn. An interview would normally be arranged to assist the applicant to fully set out their case for being considered stateless and a personal interview will not be required if there is already sufficient evidence of statelessness.
An expired passport will usually raise the presumption that the passport holder is a national of the country issuing the passport and is entitled to reside there, unless there is evidence from the country of origin that the individual in the applicant’s circumstances is not normally considered to be a national of that state.
Leave to remain as a stateless person is granted in accordance with paragraph 405 of the Immigration Rules, which states that leave will normally be granted to the applicant and their family members for an initial period of no more than 30 months. Those granted leave are entitled to take employment and have access to public funds. Subsequent periods of leave can be granted providing the applicant continues to meet the relevant criteria. Indefinite leave to remain may be granted if the applicant meets the requirements in paragraph 407 of the Immigration Rules. There is no statutory right of appeal against a decision to refuse to grant leave as a stateless person but unsuccessful applicants can apply for an administrative review.
People who are recognised as stateless are given leave to remain in accordance the policy and are entitled to apply for a travel document which will be issued in accordance with the UK obligations under the 1951 Convention.