UK is Violating Rights of Immigrants to “Family Life” through Visa Ban to their Family Members

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By Vincent Adedara, PhD in Laws, Solicitor in Nigeria, England and Wales

The principle of universality of human rights is the cornerstone of international human rights law. This means that we are all equally entitled to our human rights. This principle, as first emphasized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , is repeated in many international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions. In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. In the United Kingdom the right to family life is a ‘qualified right’ under the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 8  gave credence to the right to respect  family and private life, family home and their correspondences are inclusive of the rights protected by the Human Rights Act. The “qualified right” permitted by the Human Rights Act allowed a public authority to interfere with the right to family life if it is in protection of others’ rights or in the interest of the larger community. The 9 July 2012 UK Immigration Rules  gave power to the United Kingdom to control entry and residence notwithstanding  the individual right to family life. Therefore the  decisions made under the Immigration Rules was envisaged to be a breach of Article 8 of the ECHR. Instead of considering it a breach of Article 8 of ECHR which the UK was a party by treaty assented to with all the European Union member states before the ‘BREXIT’, the rule was rather reffered to as a genuine exception to family rights as protected by ECHR for community’s interest. This newly carved exception significantly limits individual’s capacity to expressly challenge decisions they believe have breached their fundamental right to family life.  Article 8 guarantees inter allia that family members must not be separated by deportation or removal of immigrants including but not limited to wilfully blocking of visa approval for family members in the quest to control immigrants.


The recent immigration rule planning to restrict families of students and families of other immigrants from coming to the UK violate many extant laws and human rights of the family as well as rights to family life. I rather prefer that visa should not be granted to the immigrants than blocking their family members from reuniting with them in the UK through visa restriction . Consequent upon this, the UK Border Agency should stop giving visas to students if they will not allow their families to join them in the UK. Let there be outright denial of visas than destruction of family unions. It is against universal ethos to sacrifice family life at the altar of immigration control.


Family right is salient to have been given recognition in series of international human rights instruments, which inter alia includes Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. If the UK government will go against these, then they are in violation of human rights, the country needs not commit genocide to have been noticed by the international communities to have violated International recognized human rights. The new UK immigration rule is inconsistent with international instruments consented to by the UK government. The right to family life is the right of all individuals to have their established family life respected, and to have and maintain family relationships.

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Even American Convention on Human Rights which is a regional human rights treaty similarly provides for the right to family life under Article 17(1) ” The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.”

Africa is not left out in the protection of the family and vulnerable groups as stated under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which entered into force on 21 October 1986 espoused in Article 18, viz, ” (1)The family shall be the natural unit and basis of society. It shall be protected by the State which shall take care of its physical health and moral. (2) . The State shall have the duty to assist the family which is the custodian of morals and traditional values recognized by the community. Section 37 of the CFRN guaranteed right to private and family life in Nigeria too

The United Kingdom have been in the forefront of human rights protection but human rights under the present regime had suffered and rated low especially with “The Rights Removal Bill and Human Rights Act Reform” which the government published on 22nd June 2022, with the focus of getting rid of the Human Rights Act. The government called it the Bill of Rights – but it’s exactly the opposite. It is anti people bill. This is a Rights Removal Bill and represents the latest step in plans to reduce their responsibilities to uphold the human rights protections that people relied on every day across the UK. Even the British Institute of Human Rights have concern for the recent bill introduced by the home secretary most especially the Refugee Ban Bill introduced on Tuesday 7th March 2023, the Home Secretary called the “Illegal Migration Bill”. It is popularly known as “the Refugee Ban Bill” or the “Anti-Refugee Bill” in the UK.

The rate at which UK is stylishly departing from Human Rights protection has taken the country from the forefront of human rights crusader to rate with some countries in Africa as human rights abuser . Global human rights organisations and institutions should focus on the UK with international concern on domestic violation of human rights in the country under many disguises with unpopular bills and the country should be rated low in human rights promotion and protection.

“Illegal Migration Bill” puts a duty on the Home Secretary to arrange the removal of people who come to the UK without permission if they have not arrived directly from countries where their lives and liberties are at risk. If they make an asylum claim, it will be declared “inadmissible” – so it won’t be heard – and there is no right to appeal. The bill is a removal of vital human rights protections for people.

Most especially, Africans are the target of the bill and the immigration rules, the present Prime Minister Mr Rishi Sunak should never have been involved in this rights onslaught against immigrants being an Asian descent who had his grand parents migrated to the UK before he attained the present status. If his grand parents had not migrated to the UK, he would not have been Prime Minister.

The actual focus should be “no work no benefits” policy in the United Kingdom if the effect of immigrants on economy is the problem. The UK should stop feeding the laziness of able bodies in the country, benefit per day should be limited to 10 pounds daily per able body who is not working without their faults, only disables, children whose parents are not working and aged should receive benefits. Able bodies must be made to do compulsory community services. Low income taxes should be reduced to attract able bodies to work, many able bodies are not working because they believe what they will take as welfare packages are more than what those who are working will take home. This has effect on the economy as many believe in receiving from government than giving to the government due to such imbalance. UK government should get low income earning attractive and, provide more low income jobs, stop welfare benefits for those able bodies and make it compulsory for them to get the job provided. Africans especially Nigerians contribute to the economy of the United Kingdom than any other countries educationally and in low income services etc. They must not be paid back with immigration rules that will affect their families.

There is international standard guiding immigration policy and international human rights law also protects immigrants. This means that all migrants, regardless of their status, are entitled to the same international human rights as everyone else. As with all rights-holders, States have an obligation to migrants to respect, protect, and fulfill their human rights especially their family rights.


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