As readers will no doubt be aware, over the winter, an Immigration Bill has been passing (not entirely quietly) through the various stages of Parliamentary scrutiny following its publication in October.
That passage has recently concluded with the announcement that the Bill has received Royal Assent, meaning that it is now settled legislation. This legislation is known as the Immigration Act 2014.
The Immigration Act introduces a number of changes affecting migrants, particularly in relation to access to services and wider Government powers. These include the following:
- Migrants who do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK will be required to make a financial contribution to the NHS. The new regime is expected to be implemented by April 2015
- Private landlords will be required to conduct document checks for prospective tenants (in a similar manner to how employers are required to conduct right to work document checks). This is due to be rolled out as a pilot later this year.
- The number of immigration decisions that can be appealed has fallen from 17 to 4.
- Additional powers to enable the Government to investigate ‘sham’ marriages and civil partnerships.
- Restrictions on the ability of migrants who do not have permission to be in the UK to obtain UK driving licences and open bank accounts.
- Provisions designed to ensure the courts have regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires when considering claims under Article 8 of European Convention of Human Rights (regarding the right to a private and family life).
The Government's announcement on the Act receiving Royal Assent summarises the main points from the Government's perspective. The Immigration Act has been hailed by the Immigration and Security Minister as "... a landmark piece of legislation which will build on our existing reforms to ensure that our immigration system works in the national interest."