Stateless person case

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 March 2011

Danielle Cohen Immigration Solicitors handle all aspects of UK immigration law on a daily basis but some cases are rarer than others.  We were recently involved in an unusual immigration case involving statelessness.

Our client was born in African state 1 but his mother (now dead) was from African state 2 and his father, whom he had never met, was believed to be from the Caribbean.  At the age of three he was left with an aunt in African state 1 but after her death he went back to live in African state 2 with a succession of relatives. When he was 14 years old he went to live in the Caribbean with a friend of his mother. From the Caribbean he eventually travelled to the UK using a false French passport.

When he contacted us our client was in prison serving a sentence for using false documents and obtaining a false national insurance number.  On completion of his prison sentence we made a successful bail application for him not to be detained under the Immigration Act.  We then communicated with embassies in those countries where he had lived as a child but none wanted to assume responsibility and acknowledge him as a national. We submitted an application to the Home Office requesting that our client be recognised as stateless.

Whilst that application was pending we obtained permission for the client to marry his British partner and submitted an application for him to be granted discretionary leave to remain on the basis of the marriage and asking for the resolution of the application for him to be recognised as a stateless person.

The application for discretionary leave was refused and the issue of statelessness never determined.  Instead, the Secretary of State issued formal removal directions specifying that the client should be removed to “an unknown destination” and that his British wife should follow him there.  In all our experience as UK immigration lawyers we had never before seen such a direction.

At the hearing the Immigration Judge allowed the case in full, accepting our arguments under the Human Rights Act. We argued that in the absence of any travel document or nationality our client would not be able to make an application for entry clearance from abroad to return and join his wife.   In effect the Secretary of State was asking the client to leave the UK for an indefinite and unspecified period in breach of Article 8 and Article 12 of the Human Rights Act.   Furthermore he was facing unjustifiable discrimination in the exercise of his Article 8 right and contrary to Article 14 of the Human Rights Act because as a stateless person it would have been impossible for him to ever return to the United Kingdom.

The appeal was allowed and our client was granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK; a result that we at Danielle Cohen Immigration Solicitors in London were delighted to have achieved.