London: Britain's Supreme Court has struck down a key provision in immigration rules for foreign workers on the ground that it had not been scrutinised by parliament.
The court ruled in a case related to Pakistan national Hussain Zulfiquar Alvi that ministers could not bar foreign workers unless rules used to do so had been shown to Parliament.
The ruling concerns the 'shortage occupations list' used by the Home Office to control migration of foreign workers skilled in occupations that were in demand in the country.
The ruling is likely to have an impact on cases that had been refused after 2008.
"The Home Office's occupation list is usually out of touch with growing business needs and demand. The Supreme Court judgement may ensure that migrants are not denied a visa based on arbitrary lists produced by the Home Office," Amit Kapadia, executive director of HSMP Forum, told PTI after the court ruling.
"The decision is good for democratic process and will let MPs debate and decide that the occupation lists are in accordance with the current business needs," he added.
Hussain Zulfiquar Alvi came to the UK in 2003 as a student and stayed on after his studies to become a physiotherapy assistant.
In 2009, he applied for further leave to remain under revised rules for migrant workers called the Points-Based System.
The system, which came into force in 2008, uses points to calculate which migrants have the most skills and would be of most benefit to the UK.
The Home Office said Alvi could not stay because he did not have enough skills to earn sufficient points. However, Alvi said the decision was unlawful because Parliament had not actually scrutinised the specific Home Office-set rules relating to his occupation.
The Parliament's Scrutiny Committee is required to examine all changes to immigration rules.
In its judgement, the Supreme Court said the occupation list which applied to the decision in Alvi's case was clearly part of the immigration rules that needed to be examined by Parliament, because MPs and peers wanted a say in how immigration was being controlled.
Lord Hope, the lead justice in the case, said he recognised the judgement could create a huge workload for Parliamentarians.
He said: "The situation that has created this problem is so far removed from what it was in 1971 that one wonders whether the system that was designed over 40 years ago is still fit for its purpose today."
Lord Dyson, agreeing with Lord Hope's leading judgement, criticised the modern immigration system: "It is... A striking fact that the immigration rules are already hugely cumbersome. The complexity of the machinery for immigration control has (rightly) been the subject of frequent criticism and is in urgent need of attention".
First Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 22:44