First details of new Immigration Bill announced – restrictions on appeals and working migrants

Following his reelection as Prime Minister, David Cameron has announced a new Immigration Bill, which will introduce more measures designed to limit immigration to the UK.

These new measures will be designed to limit access to public services and work for those in breach of the Immigration Rules, give the government greater powers to remove people and tighten requirements for skilled worker visas.

These new rules follow on from the government’s campaign to shut down over 850 bogus colleges. They also follow the successful deportation of over 800 migrants under the ‘deport first, appeal later’ legislation. This means it is absolutely critical to ensure all your applications are complete and made in good time.

It is expected the new Immigration Bill will make the following changes:

  • create a new offence of illegal working which means people who are here illegally – including overstayers - can’t work and that police can seize wages as proceeds of crime
  • extend the successful deport, first appeal later measures to all immigration appeals and judicial reviews
  • require all banks to check bank accounts against databases of people here illegally
  • create new powers for councils to take action against unscrupulous landlords and evict illegal workers/migrants more quickly
  • introduce satellite tracking tags for foreign criminals awaiting deportation
  • make it an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to recruit abroad without advertising in the UK. This will presumably replace the current Resident Market Labour Test.
  • create a new labour market enforcement agency to crack down on the worst cases of labour market exploitation

It is very important to note that the new criminal offence of illegal working will apply to both migrants who have entered the country illegally and also those who came to the country legally but are in breach of their conditions or have overstayed.

If you are late in applying for permission to remain in the UK this new law will affect you. It is essential that you apply for further leave to remain ahead of your visa expiring so you can still work.

At the moment, migrants with current leave to remain who are working illegally in breach of their conditions may be prosecuted under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 and be liable on summary conviction to a 6 months’ custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

This leaves a gap in relation to migrants who entered illegally or have overstayed their leave, and are not therefore subject to current conditions of stay. This new offence will address this gap and will also close a loophole whereby the wages of some illegal migrants fall outside of the scope of the confiscation provisions in the Proceeds of Crime Act, unlike those individuals who are working in breach of leave conditions. It will also mean that people who are here illegally can’t benefit from working and police can seize wages as proceeds of crime.

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