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Turkish entrepreneurs lose High Court case over UK visa rule change

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A group of Turkish entrepreneurs on Monday lost a High Court case that they brought against the Home Office over a change to immigration rules last year, the Financial Times reported.

The Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople had brought the judicial review challenge claiming the Home Office had acted unlawfully in imposing additional requirements on Turkish businesspeople and their dependents if they wanted to obtain indefinite leave to remain.

However, on Monday, Justice James Dingemans dismissed the judicial review claim and found in favor of the Home Office.

The case centered around changes to the holders of Turkish Business Person ECAA visas after the government announced last March it was ending the right of ECAA visa holders to settle permanently in the UK after four years and it was imposing additional tests.

The new hurdles included asking for five years of residence instead of four, payment of application fees of £2,389 per person and passing an English language test.

The alliance claimed the changes caused real hardship to Turkish people and their dependents and that the change of policy for those who had not applied for indefinite leave to remain was unfair and unlawful under the terms of the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) with Turkey — known as the Ankara agreement — to which the UK became a party in 1973.

The High Court heard that there were about 6,000 Turkish businesspeople and their dependents who were on the path to indefinite-leave-to-remain status under the old policy before it was changed last March.

Justice Dingemans dismissed the judicial review claim. “In my judgment the changes to the policy can be objectively justified as a proportionate response to the public interest,” he said.

“This is because the Home Office was entitled to attempt to introduce some uniformity with the nationals of other states, and because changes to the requirements have been restricted so as to reduce the impact on the applicants for ILR [indefinite leave to remain].” he added in the ruling.

Leni Candan, founder of the Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople, said in a statement: “We are very disappointed by this judgment, especially because the judge himself conceded that the Home Office’s policy changes breached our legitimate expectations. We are saddened that the very real difficulties faced by business owners and their families as a result of this policy change have not been deemed unfair enough.”

She said the alliance was considering an appeal.

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