Personal Immigration

Immigration Bill Becomes Law While EU Immigration Surges

On 14 May the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent and became the Immigration Act 2014, making fundamental changes to the UK’s immigration system.

Most of the Act’s provisions are not yet in force and require commencement orders with the exception of certain provisions pertaining to sham marriages. These are due to come into force within the next two months.

Prior to becoming law, the Bill was heavily criticised, with groups such as Migrants’ Rights Network, Movement Against Xenophobia as well as various charities, legal professionals, and trades unions speaking out against the different provisions. Such criticisms appear to have fallen on deaf ears as although a number of minor amendments were made in the House of Lords, in relation to the deprivation of citizenship for example, the Bill remained largely unchanged throughout the parliamentary process.

In a Government Statement, James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, commented:

"The Immigration Act is a landmark piece of legislation which will build on our existing reforms to ensure that our immigration system works in the national interest.”
The Home Office lists the highlights of the Act as:

  • Cutting the number of immigration decisions that can be appealed from 17 to 4, while allowing the Government to return certain harmful individuals before their appeals are heard if there is no risk of serious irreversible harm;
  • Ensuring that the courts have regard to Parliament's view of what the public interest requires when considering European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) Article 8 claims in immigration cases – making clear the right to a family life is not to be regarded as absolute and unqualified;
  • Clamping down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership;
  • Requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants, preventing those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing; and
  • Requiring temporary migrants with time-limited immigration status by requiring them to make a financial contribution to the National Health Service.
  • The Immigration Bill receiving royal assent was not the only recent development in relation to UK Immigration, with the latest immigration figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) being published – a topic shown in our blog from yesterday.

Net migration remained at 212,000, unchanged from the previous quarterly statistics, however the number of Europeans moving to the UK last year rose by 27%.

Despite, Prime Minister, David Cameron and Home Secretary, Theresa May pledging to cut net migration by 100,000 in time the Genreal Election on 7 May 2015, the latest ONS figures show their target is becoming increasingly unrealistic.  
Commenting on the statistics, Mr Brokenshire said:

“Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on our public services and forces down wages for people on low incomes.
While recent net migration levels remain stable, the figures show that it has fallen by a third since its peak in 2005 under the last government and that this government’s reforms have cut net migration from outside the EU to levels not seen since the late 1990s.

We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law. We want to ensure that people come to the UK for the right reasons – to work hard and contribute to our economy and society.”

New immigration statistics are due to be published on 28 August 2014.

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