The term ‘modern slavery’ covers a number of forms of exploitation including human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude, criminal activities, child labour, child sexual exploitation and forced and early marriage.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 sets out the legislative mechanism for identifying those who may be the victims of modern slavery and how to protect their rights.
Allegations of modern slavery, particularly human trafficking, may arise in immigration cases, typically as part of an asylum case or from those who entered the UK as domestic workers.
Where it is believed that a person may be a victim of modern slavery, their case will be referred into the National Referral Mechanism. Those with immigration matters will then have their cases considered by a team within the Home Office. This team will first make a ‘Reasonable Grounds Decision’, to establish whether someone is a potential victim and will then investigate further and make a ‘Conclusive Grounds Decision’ on whether they are, in fact, a victim.
Where the allegation of modern slavery is being considered as part of an ongoing asylum claim, a positive or negative a Conclusive Grounds decision on modern slavery does not automatically result in asylum being granted or refused. This is because the criteria used to grant asylum is not the same as the criteria used to assess whether a person is a victim of modern slavery.
Where the allegation of modern slavery is being considered outside of an asylum claim, a positive Conclusive Grounds decision may lead to a grant of Discretionary Leave or other leave. Alternatively it may lead to no grant of leave and a requirement to return home.
We are committed to assisting victims of modern slavery throughout the immigration process. We are able to assist with modern slavery issues which arise as part an asylum claim and can also grant legal aid for ‘standalone’ modern slavery cases once a positive Reasonable Grounds decision has been made.
For those who do not automatically qualify for legal aid funding, we can consider making an application for Exceptional Case Funding or can work on a private-paying basis.