Immigration Bill 2013 presented to Parliament

The government have presented a new Immigration Bill to Parliament. The proposed changes are focused on making it easier for the government to remove illegal migrants, and restricting the rights of those who remain in the UK. The changes are due to be implemented from summer 2014 onwards.

The Bill proposes significant changes to change how migrants who are in the country illegally, including those who overstay. These changes will affect the appeals system with the intention of speeding up removals from the country, as well as these illegal migrants’ rights to access public services and work.

The Home Office has summarise the key changes as follows:

The Bill will make it:

  1. easier to identify illegal immigrants by extending:
    • powers to collect and check fingerprints;
    • powers to search for passports;
    • powers to implement embarkation controls;
    • powers to examine the status and credibility of migrants seeking to marry or enter into civil partnership.

     

  2. easier to remove and deport illegal immigrants by:
    • cutting the number of decisions that can be appealed from 17 to 4 – preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights;
    • extending the number of non-suspensive appeals. Where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, we should deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later;
    • ensuring the courts have regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires when considering Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights in immigration cases;
    • restricting the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail if they have previously been refused it.

     

  3. more difficult for illegal immigrants to live in the UK by:
    • requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing;
    • making it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties;
    • prohibiting banks from opening current accounts for migrants identified as being in the UK unlawfully, by requiring banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening accounts;
    • introducing new powers to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status before issuing a licence and revoking licences where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK.

The Bill also includes additional measures to:

  • introduce a new requirement for any migrant on a time-limited visa to pay contributions to the National Health Service
  • Give the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner new powers to better regulate immigration advisors to reduce exploitation of migrants and the number of inappropriate applications
  • Simplify the fees structure which is currently spread across a number of different sets of legislation.
As well as these changes the government are also seeking to restrict access to contributory benefits and statutory payments, such as statutory maternity pay for anyone who has no right to work in the UK at the point of claim. To of these changes are:
  • The Home Office is creating a new statutory presumption that the EU right to reside as a jobseeker, and consequently access to benefits, will stop after six months – unless the person can prove they are actively seeking work and have a real chance of getting a job. To introduce this measure we will amend the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 to come into effect in January 2014.
  • DWP are also strengthening the Habitual Residence Test. All migrants, including British nationals returning from a period living or working abroad, have to satisfy the test to claim income related benefits. DWP have improved the question set and this will be supported by an intelligent by design IT system that will tailor the questions asked to individual circumstances. The strengthened test will be introduced by the end of 2013.

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