Category

immigration

‘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.

changes

More change is on the way

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This week saw changes announced in both nationality law and the Immigration Rules.

From 12 November EEA nationals and their family members who wish to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen will no longer be able to do so by submitting evidence of having exercised Treaty rights in the UK for the required period of time, but will need a document to show that they have permanent residence, thereby adding one additional step to the process.

Whilst most of the changes to the Immigration Rules are minor and many are of a technical nature, two important changes are the addition of nurses and some digital technology jobs to the Shortage Occupation list, meaning that these posts can be recruited to without conducting a recruitment campaign, and also, from 06 April 2016, the coming into force of plans announced many years ago, whereby people on Tier 2 will only be able to apply for settlement if they are earning £35,000 or more.

Businessman presenting four British passports at customs or check in area

New immigration checks

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Businessman presenting four British passports at customs or check in area

Continuing with the government’s stated intention to create a ‘hostile environment’ in the UK, landlords will now be forced to act as immigration policemen.

From 01 February 2016 landlords in England and Wales will be required to check passports to make sure that people are in the UK legally before renting out their property.  This scheme, which was introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, has been carried on on a trial basis in the Midlands, but is to be extended across England and Wales.

Failure on the part of a landlord to comply currently carries a fine of up to £3000.  The Immigration Bill going through Parliament will increase the maximum penalty to a five year jail sentence.

 

money

Financial requirements – it isn’t over yet

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The current financial requirements, which require a UK based sponsor to show an annual income of £18,600 before he or she can sponsor a partner from overseas, were brought in on 09 July 2012, and have been the cause of much controversy since.  Challenged successfully in the High Court, who ruled that the requirement was unlawful, the Home Office reacted by taking the matter to the Court of Appeal, meanwhile putting all applications that did not meet the financial requirements on hold – in March 2014, this was some 3,641.

In July 2014 the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Home Office, and all the applications that were on hold, and any others where the financial requirements were not met, in precisely the way that the Immigration Rules specify, were refused and have continued to be refused.  Now, 10 months after that judgement, comes a glimmer of hope – the case is to go before the Supreme Court.  No date has been set as yet, and it is likely to be many months before the matter is heard, and some months after that before a judgement is released.  Meanwhile the financial requirements stand as they are, but there is, somewhere at the end of a very long tunnel, a glimmer of hope ….

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girl

What the future holds for immigration

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If the mantra of the 1997 general election, when Labour came to office, was that things can only get better, the manta of this general election is that, for anyone affected by immigration law in this country, things can only get worse.  A lot worse, probably.

It is likely that the Human Rights Act, which is based on the European Convention on Human Rights and which guarantees, amongst other things, the right to respect for an individual’s family and private life, will be repealed during this Parliament, as the Conservative Party manifesto commits the party to replacing the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights.  The contents of this Bill of Rights are as yet unknown.

The commitment to bring annual net migration down to the ‘tens of thousands’ remains, and a tightening of the Immigration Rules that apply to students and to skilled workers is likely.  Closer monitoring of migrants and ‘non-suspensive appeals’ – that is, appeals that do not give you the right to remain in the UK while your case is going through the appeal process – are also likely to be brought in.

There are stated intentions to limit access to benefits and impose English language and income requirements on EEA nationals, though all this of course is not permitted under EEA law, and would mean considerable negotiations with other EEA member states before this could be implemented. Meanwhile a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union is promised by the end of 2017.

mug

Election Watch: It’s a mug’s game

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mugWhen Labour swept to power in 1997, it was to the tune of D:Ream’s hit song, Things Can Only Get Better.  We don’t know if they are going to sweep into power in 2015, or limp into power, or even make it to the finishing line, but one thing seems certain – things aren’t going to get any better for migrants.

Number 4 of Labour’s five election pledges is controls on immigration.  While they don’t seem to play the numbers game in quite the same way that the other parties do, they want stronger border controls, “proper” entry and exit checks, and to stop the exploitation of low-waged workers by unscrupulous bosses.  Or, in other words, to stop people from coming to the UK, but only for their own good.

Someone in the Labour Party thought this mug was a good idea.  Someone in the Labour Party continues to think that it is a good idea, because despite the outpouring of disgust at the crassness and insensitivity that this mug embodies (including some fairly strong statements from high profile party members) you can still buy it for £5 on their website.

Oh dear.