Very Significant obstacles as a basis for Private Life Stay in the UK
Posted on 25th October 2019 at 12:15
By George Tizirai-Chapwanya
Solicitor at CB Solicitors
The right to private life can be relied upon as a basis for stay in the UK in any of the circumstances mentioned under paragraph 276ADE (1) (i) to (vi) of the Immigration rules. However this article shall focus solely on paragraph 276 ADE (1) (vi) that provides for a grant of stay if there will be very significant obstacles to your integration in your country of origin.
In order to meet the requirements of paragraph 276ADE (1) (vi) an applicant must show that they are aged 18 or above, has lived continuously in the UK for a period of less than 20 years (discounting any period of imprisonment) and that there would be very significant obstacles to their integration into the country to which they would have to go if required to leave the United Kingdom.
It has always been difficult to identify factors that may amount to very significant obstacles to integration. The Home Office’s argument has been something like this:
“…you resided in your country for so many years, which includes your childhood, formative years and a portion of your adult life. It is accepted that you will have retained knowledge of the life, language and culture and would not face significant obstacles to reintegrating into life in your home country once more.”
The assumption here is that one will be able pick from where one left and move on with one’s life. This of course is often a wrong assumption considering the rapid political and economic meltdown that has happened in most countries from where most applicants come from. The argument continues:
“Whilst the current economic situation in your country may be poor, the Secretary of State is satisfied you would not suffer any greater hardship than other people of that nation.”
Here the Secretary of State is saying your hardship is bearable as your fellow countrymen/women are going through the same. However the important point is that the Secretary of State must be reminded of the policy framework behind paragraph 276ADE (1) (vi) which is to focus on the obstacles as they relate to the person in the UK at the time of application and not how the other citizens in the country of origin are coping with these obstacles.
The Secretary of State even raises the argument that:
“…you have already demonstrated your ability to adapt to life in another country, which on your arrival in the UK, was a completely new environment to you. Given your ability to integrate into life in the UK a country you had no knowledge or experience of, it is considered you would be able to re-integrate into the culture and way of life in your country of origin, a country you have previously lived.”
This is arguable as the scenarios may not remotely connected, as conditions for the facilitation of one’s adaptation may be different between the UK and the applicant’s home country. In most cases most applicants would find it easy to adapt and survive in the UK than they would on return to their home country. So the fact that one has spent most of his/her adult life in her country of origin does not necessary imply that re-integration is a forgone conclusion, as invariably very significant obstacles will always be there.
So the question is how does one respond to such assertions? It is not enough fr the applicant to say that he/she will have no job and that the economy in that country is not performing well. The answer lies in how the Tribunal have dealt with this issue. In Kamara v SSHD  EWCA Civ 813, Sales LJ at paragraph 14 said,
“…the idea of ‘integration’ calls for a broad evaluative judgment to be made as to whether the individual will be enough of an insider in terms of understanding how life in the society in that other country is carried on and a capacity to participate in it, so as to have a reasonable opportunity to participate in it, so as to have a reasonable opportunity to be accepted there, to be able to operate on a day-to-day basis in that society and to build up within a reasonable time a variety of human relationships to give substance to the individual’s private or family life.”
In Treebhawon v SSHD  UKT 12 (IAC) at paragraph 37 the Upper Tribunal said,
“The other limb of the test ‘very significant obstacles’ erects a self-evidently elevated threshold, such that mere hardship, mere difficulty, mere hurdles and mere upheaval or inconvenience, even where multiplied, will general be insufficient in this context.”
So clearly very significant obstacles is a high threshold test. However it does not mean that it cannot be overcome. Clearly a situation where one would end being a destitute on return to his/her country of origin might breach this threshold. Also situations where one no longer has any one to turn to on return and it can been shown that either family members have relocated elsewhere outside the country of origin or their whereabouts are unknown can also be a factor to consider. As in all legal issues each case depends on its own facts.
We will therefore be able to assist with private life applications on the basis of very significant obstacles to integration on return to your country of origin. This is an application that can be made where one has no basis for seeking asylum or humanitarian protection.
George Tizirai-Chapwanya, BL (Hons) LLB LLM is a Solicitor with CB Solicitors. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit CB Solicitors’ website at www.cbsolicitors.co.uk; Mobile: 07950529478
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information on immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a Solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of use of this information.
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