Reforms to the immigration appeals system in the Immigration Act 2014 are being phased in from 20 October 2014. Criminals will be deported and will not be able to appeal beforehand unless they face a real risk of serious irreversible harm. For those that do have an appeal right, they will only be able to appeal once.
In addition, new immigration rules will provide a system of administrative review through which case work errors will be corrected within 28 days rather than 12 weeks.
Further measures in the new Act are also being brought into force to limit the ability of immigration detainees to make repeat bail applications and to extend the powers of the Immigration Services Commissioner to combat rogue immigration advisers.
Powers are also being brought into force to enable the Home Office to implement the NHS health surcharge and changes to the process for giving notice of marriage or civil partnership to combat ‘sham’ marriages and civil partnerships.
Finally, the Tier 1 (Investor) route is being reformed following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee. The minimum investment threshold will be raised from £1m to £2m. The government has also announced that it will consult further on what sort of investment the route should encourage to deliver economic benefits to the UK and any other recommendations. A consultation document is expected to be published in due course.
New legislation which will see landlords face fines if they rent homes to illegal immigrants without checking their ‘right to rent’.
The new law will mean private landlords will have to check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country if they want to avoid potentially being fined up to £3,000.
Landlords will need to see evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, for example a passport or biometric residence permit. In most cases landlords will be able carry out these simple checks without the need to contact the Home Office.
Copies of the documentation will need to be taken as evidence the checks have been carried out and retained for one year after the tenancy ends. Children under 18 will not need to be checked.
Following an evaluation of the implementation in the West Midlands next spring, the Home Office expects to continue with the phased introduction of checks across the UK next year.
Changes to the Immigration Rules will implement restrictions on the ability of those already present in the UK as a Tier 4 (Student) or Tier 1 (Post Study Work) migrant to make an in-country application for an extension of stay as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
The new restrictions will not apply to those qualifying on the basis of seed funding or funding provided by another government department, nor, in the case of those switching from the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) route, will they apply to those who have already established a genuine business. Those who graduate here will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category.
In addition, the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules will remove all tests provided by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), and specific tests provided by Cambridge English and Trinity College London from the list of approved English tests.
The statement of changes also contains amendments to the Immigration Rules on family and private life, in particular with regard to foreign criminals. Specifically, the statement of changes will allow the Secretary of State to certify an appeal where an individual is liable to deportation in circumstances where the Secretary of State is of the view that the removal of a person to the country or territory to which they are proposed to be removed would not be considered unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
The Home Office has placed new restrictions on the entrepreneur visa route for students. With the new clampdown students will only be able to switch using funds from a government-approved source, and post-study workers will need additional evidence of their business activities. In addition, those who have not yet started businesses and who do not have evidence of a genuine business will not be able to switch from the old post-study route onto an entrepreneur visa.
The Home Office has today announced a further renewal of concessions to the Immigration Rules to enable Syrian nationals lawfully in the UK to extend their stay here in light of the ongoing situation in Syria.
Specifically, Syrian nationals in the UK with valid leave (or leave which has expired within the last 28 days) in specified visa categories will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay in that visa category, or switch into a different specified category from within the UK (with some restrictions) rather than being required to return home first. Those applying will still need to meet the requirements of the relevant visa category, pay the appropriate fee, and adhere to the normal conditions of that category – no access to public funds, for example. If a required document is not accessible due to the civil unrest in Syria the Home Office may apply its discretion and the requirement to provide that document may be waived where appropriate.
These concessions will remain in force until 28 February 2015, whilst the UK government continues to monitor the situation in Syria. Alongside this announcement the Home Office has also published guidance that explains the concessions for Syrian nationals.