The United Kingdom’s Rwanda Policy – What does it mean?

On Monday 22nd April 2024, the Safety of Rwanda Bill Passed through Parliament.

Why has the bill been introduced?

This bill has been introduced to act as a deterrent for those individuals who intend to arrive in the UK across the English Channel. This idea has been echoed by James Cleverly (Home Secretary) who stated:

“This vital legislation means we can now proceed with our Rwanda plan and begin removing people with no right to be here.The only way to stop the boats is to eliminate the incentive to come – by making clear that if you are here illegally, you will not be allowed to stay. Our policy does exactly that and plans are well under way to begin flights within 10-12 weeks.”

Additionally, this has further been echoed by Rishi Sunak (Prime Minister) who said:

“The passing of this landmark legislation is not just a step forward but a fundamental change in the global equation on migration.

We introduced the Rwanda Bill to deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit them. The passing of this legislation will allow us to do that and make it very clear that if you come here illegally, you will not be able to stay.

Our focus is to now get flights off the ground, and I am clear that nothing will stand in our way of doing that and saving lives.”

What does this mean?

For the purpose of relocating asylum seekers, in particular those who entered illegally after 1st January 2022, Rwanda is now deemed to be a safe country. This means that their claims can now be considered in Rwanda, and if successful these asylum seekers would be granted refugee status in Rwanda or can seek asylum in another safe country.

However, perhaps the most significant part of this Act is that no asylum seeker would be able to return to the UK, illustrating the extent to which this policy has always been intended as a means of deterrent. Perhaps, asylum seeks will become less willing to put their lives at risk as the policy raises uncertainty over how individuals are selected to have their claims considered in Rwanda.

Significantly, the Act has taken into consideration and has attempted to address the concerns of the UK Supreme Court, which ruled the policy as unlawful in November 2023, and the Rwanda Treaty. It has introduced measures to illustrate that Rwanda will not return individuals to a country which is deemed unsafe i.e. via introducing better asylum system and an appeals tribunal for instance.

Additionally, the Act also orders the court to ignore key sections of the Human Rights Act 1998, in effect disapplying sections of it, and compels courts to disregard other British laws or international rules. This makes it increasingly challenging to block deportations to Rwanda on the grounds of safety.

Preparations to implement this policy have included:
  • An airfield on standby and commercial charter planes within the next 10-12 weeks
  • Increase in detention spaces 2,200
  • 200 trained dedicated case workers to process asylum cases
  • 25 courtrooms to deal with any legal cases

The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent in the coming days.

Rwanda Bill is expected to change the immigration regulation a lot. If you want to know more about the policy or need help from solicitors for your immigration application, please contact MSR Solicitors.

*This article is not legal advice but provides a general overview. The specific details of your case will determine the best course of action.