Making Subject Access Requests to the Home Office is an important tool for legal representatives in establishing a person’s immigration history in the UK. They can provide invaluable details about previous applications made, the evidence relied upon and even contain the caseworker’s notes during the consideration process of previous applications.
However, this could all change following the introduction of The EU General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR), which comes into force on 25th May 2018. The GDPR is to regulate how organisations in the UK deal with data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. The UK must give effect to the GDPR and have introduced the Data Protection Bill 2017 which will replace the Data Protection Act 1998.
The Data Protection Bill 2017 introduces an immigration control exemption in Schedule 2, Part 1, Paragraph 4. This states:
4(I) The GDPR provisions listed in sub-paragraph (2) do not apply to personal data processed for any of the following purposes –
- The maintenance of effective immigration control, or
- The investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control, to the extent that the application of those provisions would be likely to prejudice any of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b).
Simply put, this means that the Home Office are under no obligation to respond to a Subject Access Request if they consider the above exemption applies.
Whilst there are some heavyweight organisations like Liberty and ILPA pushing for this exemption to be removed, as the Bill moves through Parliament, it is still of some concern to those working in this area and even more so to individuals who will need to make Subject Access Requests.
The advice for now would be to make Subject Access Requests to the Home Office as soon as possible, particularly if you have a lengthy and complicated immigration history in the UK.
If you need any assistance with this, then please contact us on 0121 346 4556 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
You can find the Liberty’s briefing paper on this subject here