The Immigration Bill 2015 was published on 17 September 2015. For now, this post provides links to further reading and resources on the Bill and also some commentary on the appeals sections, which are of the most direct interest to immigration lawyers like myself. I may update and perhaps republish the post if there are significant developments or I get a chance to take a closer look at other parts of the Bill
The quick news on appeals is that virtually all human rights appeals will be out of country. Given that the right of appeal is limited by the Immigration Act 2014 only to human rights and refugee appeals, this means that almost all normal immigration appeals will be out of country.
The accompanying press release tells us about the intentions behind the Bill and provides a summary of what the Government would like the newspapers to say about the Bill:
People driving a car while in the country illegally face jail and having their vehicles seized under new powers announced in today’s Immigration Bill.
A new offence of driving while unlawfully in the UK will see anyone convicted facing a sentence of up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine in England and Wales.
Anyone arrested for the new offence could have their car impounded and, if convicted, forfeited. Immigration Enforcement officers will have new powers to search individuals and properties and seize driving licences if they suspect someone to be here illegally.
The provisions in the new Bill to toughen our action against those with no right to be in the UK have three main themes:
- new measures cracking down on the exploitation of low-skilled workers, increasing the punishments for employing illegal migrants, and strengthening sanctions for working illegally
- building on the Immigration Act 2014 to ensure that only people living lawfully in the UK can have access to UK bank accounts, driving licences and rental accommodation
- increasing powers to make it easier to remove people who have no right to be in the UK…
…The new Bill builds on this work to reduce the ‘pull’ factors that draw illegal migrants to Britain and the availability of public services which help them to remain here unlawfully.
It includes a range of new powers to:
- tackle illegal employment, including a new offence of illegal working
- stop providing support to migrants who do not return home once all claims to asylum have failed
- strengthen our border security
- ensure all public employees in customer-facing roles speak good English
- electronically tag those on immigration bail
- create a new role of Director of Labour Market Enforcement
- impose a new skills levy on businesses bringing migrant labour into the country so we can reduce our reliance on imported labour, and boost the skills of young people in the UK
This is a briefing from ILPA, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association. ILPA will be publishing more briefings as the Bill passes through parliament. To keep up to date with the latest news, go the ILPA website and subscribe to receive briefings and information sheets by email.
The next stage in the parliamentary process will be a general debate on the Bill in the House of Commons called ‘second reading’ which will take place on 13 October 2015.
Immigration Bill 2015
The Government introduced its new Immigration Bill to the House of Commons on 17 September 2015. This sheet provides an overview of some of the changes the Bill seeks to implement and of the next steps in the parliamentary process. There is much to analyse in the detail of the Bill and further briefings will follow on specific areas.
Human rights appeals
The Bill seeks to remove to remain in the UK while appealing on human rights grounds against an immigration decision unless to leave the UK would cause ‘serious and irreversible harm’. This extends to all individuals the provisions that are currently in force for foreign national offenders. This would not affect appeals brought under the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to be free from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) but would affect human rights appeals brought under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to private and family life. Individuals would be required to bring any appeal against a wrong decision from outside the UK, causing the separation of families, disruption to an established life in the UK and practical difficulties in appealing from abroad.
Access to services
More measures are proposed in this Bill to extend the ‘hostile environment’ that the Government seeks to create for people living in the UK without legal status. These are likely to lead to discrimination affecting people with citizenship or legal residence, such as those from ethnic minorities, and preventing them from accessing services also.
The right to rent scheme introduced under the Immigration Act 2014 requiring landlords and landladies to check immigration status documents and not rent to people disqualified from renting by their immigration status, is being extended across the country without the need for any change to legislation. Alongside this, the Bill enables landlords and landladies to evict people whose immigration status means that they have ‘no right to rent’. It also creates a new criminal offence, with a maximum five year prison sentence, for landlords and landladies who know or have reasonable grounds to believe that their property is occupied by a person who does not have the ‘right to rent’.
Banks and building societies will be required periodically to check the immigration status of current account holders and to notify the Home Office if a person does not have the correct legal status. They will be required to facilitate the closure of bank accounts held by those without legal status.
The Bill creates a new offence of driving whilst not lawfully resident in the UK and powers that enable police and immigration officers to search for and seize driving licenses.
Provision of support
The Bill seeks to repeal section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and replace this with a new section 95A of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 limited to providing support to failed asylum seekers who can show that they are destitute and that there is a genuine obstacle to removal. The Bill leaves the detail of what will be considered a genuine obstacle to removal and how support will be provided to the Home Office to determine in regulations. There would also be no right of appeal against decisions to refuse or discontinue support under this section.
Families with children who reach the end of the asylum process would no longer qualify for support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This means they will be unable to access support if they do not meet the criteria of the new section 95A provision.
Support under section 95 Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 would be extended to those who lodge further submissions, however this only protects those making further submissions on refugee and humanitarian protection grounds and only if these have not been considered by the Home Office within a specified timeframe.
Bail and electronic tagging
The Bill seeks to create a new framework for immigration bail replacing temporary admission and other forms of temporary release for people who are liable to be detained or are seeking release from detention. The Secretary of State would have wide-ranging powers to impose conditions on immigration bail, including electronic monitoring requirements.
The Bill would create a new criminal offence for people working illegally with a maximum prison sentence of 51 weeks and/or a fine. New powers are created for the immigration service to seize earnings and close down businesses.
Immigration skills charge
The Bill would create a power for the Secretary of State to require employers to pay an immigration skills charge for each skilled worker that they sponsor from outside the European Economic Area. The amount of the fee and any exemptions would be determined in later regulations and the money raised would be used to fund apprenticeships in the UK.
Missing from the Bill
There are measures that many organisations would like to see introduced in any new Bill. These include a time limit on detention, judicial oversight of detention and reforms to citizenship laws.
Next steps in the parliamentary process
There will be a general debate on the Bill in the House of Commons called ‘second reading’ which will take place on 13 October 2015. Briefings to MPs for this debate are best focused on highlighting your main areas of concern in the Bill and the things you would like to see included in it.
The detail of the Bill will then be considered by a smaller committee of the House of Commons in a series of public debates in which amendments to clauses will be put forwarded, debated and sometimes voted on. This will be the opportunity to provide briefings on specific issues in the Bill which cause concern and seek changes.