Ankara Agreement appeal decision accepted

THE UK Court of Appeal, the highest court within the Senior Courts of England and Wales has granted the Alliance of Turkish Businesspeople (AOTB) permission to appeal a High Court judgment on immigration rules that have made it harder for thousands of Turks to stay in the country.

“The Court of Appeal has just granted us permission to appeal the High Court’s judgment. We will have our case heard at the Court of Appeal at a date that’s not yet announced,” the AOTB, consisting of a group of Turkish entrepreneurs, said on its Twitter profile on Sept. 17.

Up until March 2018, a Turkish national could settle in the United Kingdom to set up a business if they could prove they had sufficient funds to do so as per the Ankara Agreement signed with the European Union in 1963.

Also known as the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA), it was set up to boost trade and economic relations between the two parties and pave the way for Ankara’s accession to the bloc.

After a year, Turkish citizens self-employed in the UK could apply for further leave to remain, usually for three years and then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for free. The agreement also allowed them to bring dependents to the UK, including spouses, civil partners and children under the age of 21.

But a British court in 2017 ruled that “it would be incongruous if the Ankara Agreement and its Additional Protocol were to confer on Turkish nationals and their family member’s rights superior to those available to EU nationals and their family members.”

Following the ruling, the Home Office stopped accepting applications for ILR under the ECAA It then extended the minimum residency requirement by one year to five years in line with the policy for EU nationals. It also includes a language and culture test known as “Life in the U.K.” and an IRL application fee of 2,389 British pounds per person.

To challenge the policy change in the courts, those affected founded the AOTB. In March 2019 they logged a legal battle against the Home Office; The High Court ruled in the favour of the Home Office in June 2019 and dismissed the judicial review claim. The AOTB then filed for a right to appeal, which the Court of appeal has accepted.

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