What happens when someone doesn’t receive a decision sent to them by the Home Office that affects their right to continue living in the UK?
The answer to this question depends on what attempts were made to send the decision to the person and whether this constituted “deemed service”. Deemed service is a term most lawyers will be familiar with. For those who are not lawyers, service is essentially just formal delivery of a document.
The rules on service – whether of court documents, contractual notices, immigration decisions, or other important documents – are designed to ensure that anyone who will be affected by the document receives it and is aware of its contents.
Deemed service is when the law assumes the person affected has received the document, even when in reality they may be completely unaware of its existence. This is generally only permitted in limited circumstances. This relatively opaque corner of immigration law was recently considered by the High Court in Rahman v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2952 (Admin).
The Home Office had sent a curtailment letter cancelling Mr Rahman’s student visa to an old address. Mr Rahman had not told the department his new address (although he had told his college and believed it would update the Home Office). He did not receive the letter. It was returned to the Home Office by Royal Mail marked “returned – moved – this person not living here anymore”. The Home Office made no second attempt to deliver the letter, deeming it to be served as it had been sent to the last known address.
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