New Immigration Bill
On 10 October the Home Office published a Bill to continue its reforms to the immigration system. Subject to its Parliamentary progress, the Bill is expected to receive royal assent in spring 2014. The main provisions cover:
- Private Landlords – who will be required to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented accommodation. This will also apply to those who sub-let or take in lodgers. The government will publish a draft code of practice for the operation of the civil penalty regime, which will include guidance for landlords and draft regulations setting out the status documents which landlords will be required to check. Subject to Parliamentary approval the intention is that the scheme will be implemented from October 2014. It will not apply to existing tenancies and landlords will only have to conduct checks on new tenants from the implementation date.
- National Health Service Charges – to be introduced to ensure that non-EEA nationals will contribute towards the NHS care that will be available to them during their stay in the UK. This will take the form of a health surcharge payable as a precondition of entry clearance or limited leave to remain for those migrants residing in the UK for more than 6 months. This will be payable at the same time as the fee for an entry clearance application or a fee for a leave to remain application. Exemptions will apply to those seeking asylum, humanitarian protection, amongst others (it is not yet known who will fall within the “amongst others” group). The government will produce secondary legislation to set out which groups will be required to pay the surcharge, to set the level of it and to provide further information on how it will operate.
- Driving Licences – introduction of 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.
- Bank Accounts – requirement for banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening bank accounts.
- Sham Marriages – clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership.
- Restrictions on Appeal Rights – the number of decisions which can be appealed will be cut from 17 to four –preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights.
- Extend the number of non-suspensive appeals - where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, foreign criminals will be deported first and have their appeals heard later.
- Article 8 provisions – to ensure the courts have regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires when considering Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in immigration cases.
For a link to the Bill, please click here.