Immigration Bill – October 2013

An Immigration Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 10 October 2013. Subject to its Parliamentary progress, it is expected to receive Royal Assent in spring 2014. The Government has stated that the object of the Bill is to reform the removals and appeals system, making it easier and quicker to remove those with no right to be in the UK. In their view it will end the abuse of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights- the right to respect for private and family life, and will prevent illegal migrants accessing and abusing public services and the labour market.

Access to Services

Renting

Private landlords will be required to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing private rented housing. Any landlords or agents found to be in breach of this provision will face a penalty of up to £3,000.

Charges for health services

The Bill proposes to introduce a new requirement for temporary migrants who have only a time-limited immigration status, to make a contribution to the National Health Service.

Opening bank accounts

The proposed legislation will disqualify a person unlawfully in the UK from opening a bank or building society account. The burden to check a person’s immigration status will be placed on banks and building societies, which will be required to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening accounts. It is proposed that this will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which will have power to impose penalties.

Driving Licences

New powers will be introduced to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status before issuing a licence and revoking licences where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK.

Appeals

The Bill amends rights of appeal, limiting immigration appeals to circumstances where there has been a refusal of a human rights or asylum or humanitarian protection claim, or where refugee status or humanitarian protection has been revoked. It requires the Secretary of State to certify that to require an appellant who is being deported to leave the UK before their appeal is determined would not cause serious irreversible harm, in which case the person may only appeal from outside the UK. It also provides that a court or tribunal considering a claim that a decision is unlawful on the grounds that it would breach a person’s right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights must, in particular, have regard to the public interest and sets out what the public interest requires.

Powers of removal

The Government believe that the current process for enforcing the removal of people unlawfully in the UK is a complex one, with a number of stages needing to be completed before an individual can be removed. They have stated that they want to adopt a system where only one decision is made, encompassing both a person’s immigration status and their removability. This will inform the individual that they cannot stay in the UK where they have no valid leave to be here, and enable Immigration Enforcement to remove them if they do not leave voluntarily.