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Asha

Brexit – what now?

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27 June 2016

Brexit – the vote to leave the European Union has, naturally, led to a lot of uncertainty.  There has been a lot of speculation and worry as to what will happen to EU citizens living in the UK and to UK citizens living in Europe.  This is a brief outline of the position:

Immediate changes

There won’t be any.  The UK is still a part of the EU, and will be for at least the next two years.

The process of leaving the EU is set out in Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union.  It has never been used before so no one is quite sure how it will work, but the process doesn’t begin until the UK government makes a formal statement / application to start the leaving process.

On the UK side, there is no hurry to do this – the Prime Minister has said that this is a matter for his successor, and Boris Johnson, who was a leading campaigner for Brexit, has also said that there is no hurry to begin.  EU ministers, on the other hand, say that there should be no delay, and the UK should start proceedings this week.

Whenever the process begins, for two years from that date the UK will continue to be a part of the EU, and nothing will change in terms of the rights of free movement.

EU citizens already in the UK

Until the UK leaves the EU, there is no change in status.  It is not clear what will happen after that, but it is most likely that some sort of transitional arrangements will be put in place for people to be granted leave under the UK Immigration Rules once the UK leaves the UK.

The details of how this will work is still unknown, and it could be that different applications will need to be made depending upon whether someone already has permanent residence under EU law, was here before the vote, or comes to the UK between the vote and the time that the UK actually leaves.  This is, however, just speculation at this point of time.

EU citizens coming to the UK after Brexit

Until Brexit actually happens – that is, until the UK actually leaves the EU – there is no change in the status of EU nationals coming to the UK. What happens after that is just speculation, but probably, people will need to apply for permission under the Immigration Rules if they want to live and work or study in the UK.  It is very likely that people coming on holiday or short visits will still be able to travel freely.

The present Immigration Rules regarding students and workers are likely to be changed, but the government will have more immediate priorities at the moment.

UK citizens living in Europe

Until the UK actually leaves the EU, there will be no change in their status.  After that it will depend upon what deals the UK negotiates with the EU, but it is very unlikely that they will not get some sort of status in their adopted countries.

Further information

Please call us on 0800 061 4128 and speak to one of our lawyers if you would like to discuss your personal circumstances.  Alternately, you might want to read more on our EEA law page.

What next for the appeal system?

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justice19 May 2016

Justice is blind, we are told, handing out her decisions impartially. That’s great, but unfortunately now she is deaf, dumb and toothless as well.

As the “hostile climate” that the government seeks to create for migrants gets bedded into UK society, the latest victim is justice.  Piece by piece, the formally robust appeal system is being dismantled, leaving you and me – the ordinary person on the street – with nowhere to go if our immigration application is refused, and no higher authority than the Home Office to turn to.

The first sign that the appeal system was being dismantled came last year, when the amount of time dedicated to immigration appeals dropped dramatically. From an average of three to four months between lodging an appeal and getting a hearing before an Immigration Judge, it now takes something like 18 months, as an increasing number of hearing rooms are closed and hearing centres that used to be busy, buzzing places now look like ghost towns, with just a handful of appeals heard each day.

Then came the proposal to increase appeal fees by more than 500%, taking the fees for an oral hearing from £140 to £800.  The Home Office acknowledge that this will mean that many people will no longer be able to afford to appeal, but nonetheless, that is what they propose to do.  You can do your bit to try and stop this by signing the  petition against the fee increase.

The latest blow to the appeal system has come with the new Immigration Act 2016, which takes away the right to remain in the UK while you are in the appeal process.  Though the Act has been passed, this has not come into effect as yet, but it is only a matter of time.

Never, ever, EVER has it been so important to make sure that your application is perfect, with nothing left to chance and no loose ends that would give the Home Office a reason to refuse it.

immigration

Immigration Act 2016 published

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17 May 2016

The Immigration Act 2016 was published today.

It is a weighty tome (236 pages) and we haven’t had time to read and absorb it all as yet, but it is a depressing document, and as various parts of it are implemented it will continue to escalate the “hostile environment” which the government has so proudly created.

Penalties for illegal working – and for employing someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK – have increased, and landlords renting their houses to someone who is in the UK illegally could find themselves facing up to five years in jail, as well as a hefty fine. Employers registered on the Register of Sponsors will, from 17 July 2016, have to pay an “immigration skills charge” to sponsor someone from overseas.

But perhaps the saddest, most depressing part of this document is what, at first glance, appears to be the end of an in-country right of appeal.  Until now, even if your visa ran out you remained in the UK legally, as long as you had submitted your application whilst your visa was still valid, or as long as you were in the appeal process.  When section 64 of the new Act is implemented, you will be fine while your application is being considered, but if the application is refused, you will no longer be in the UK legally, and will only be able to appeal from overseas.

Watch this space – we’ll keep you updated as we get a better grip on the implications of this new Act.

Proposal to increase appeal fees by over 500%

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25 April 2016

In a consultation that opened on 21 April 2016 and will run until 03 June 2016, the government is proposing to increase the fees charged by the First-tier Tribunal by over 500% – by 570%, to be exact, for an oral hearing (from £140 to £800) and by over 600% for a decision on the papers (from £80 t0 £490).

The consultation document, which you can access here, accepts that this will mean that appeals will be out of the reach of about 20% of people who have a right of appeal.  When the Immigration Bill that is currently going through parliament become law, there will also no longer be a right to remain in the UK while an appeal is being heard.

Speculations on Brexit

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19 March 2016

We’re getting a lot of calls these days from people asking what will happen if the referendum on 23 June throws up a vote to leave the EEA.  European nationals and their families already in the UK are naturally concerned, and so too are British citizens, wondering how this will affect their ability to travel, work and live freely.

The short answer is  – we don’t know.  I don’t think anyone does, even the government!

It is difficult to see how anyone already here exercising Treaty rights, or their family members, could be asked to leave, and presumably some sort of status would be granted in such cases.  Equally, presumably anyone with an application pending with the Home Office would be considered under rights of free movement as they are now, rather than as they would be in the event of Brexit, but it is a question of watch this space- and meanwhile, put in an application if you possibly can.

 

change

More changes to the Immigration Rules

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14 March 2016

Changes to the Immigration Rules, effective 06 April 2016, were announced on Friday.  There are a number of changes coming in, but of particular significance are:

  • Outstanding debts to the NHS of £500 or more will lead to an application for entry clearance being refused (this is £500 less than the current rule, of refusal if the debt is £1,000 or more)
  • Further tightening of the Tier 4 rules
  • Changes to the evidence required to show that the financial requirements are met for self-employed people
  • Increasing the reasons why a partner visa can be refused because of previous character and conduct

 

 

Application fees to increase

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sterling notes in handsCorrection

In a move that caught all immigration lawyers by surprise, the Home Office have announced today that the annual increase in fees will come in on 18 March this year, rather than on 06 April as it usually does.

– 26 February 2016

 

Every 6th of April, at the start of the new tax year, the fees for immigration applications increase, and this year is no different.  Fees across the board are going up by around 25% – so put your application in before that if you possibly can!

‘Right to rent’ scheme goes live

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From today all private landlords in England and Wales can only let their property to an adult who is legally in the UK.  This, of course, turns private individuals into immigration officials, required to ask every potential tenant for their immigration documents.  Renting a property to someone who isn’t legally in the UK carries a maximum fine of £3,000 – if the new Immigration Bill that is currently going through Parliament becomes law, it will carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

And the position of people who have submitted their application in time and are therefore in the UK legally, but are temporarily without any paperwork to prove their status?  Probably not good, as landlords are likely to worry about the consequences for themselves and so take the safe route of just not renting their property to someone whose visa is about to expire.

New English language requirement from October

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A new requirement is being introduced to the family migration route – partners and parents applying for an extension of their visas after the first two and a half years in the UK will now need to have passed a speaking and listening test at level A2 before submitting their application.

This new requirement will come into effect for all applications from October 2016.  The exact date in October has not yet been announced.

Application fees to increase

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sterling notes in handsEvery 6th of April, at the start of the new tax year, the fees for immigration applications increase, and this year is no different.  Fees across the board are going up by around 25% – so put your application in before that if you possibly can!