Saturday, 17 May 2014

Immigration Act 2014 becomes law and provides real change

The Immigration Bill receives Royal Assent this week and builds on our reforms to the immigration system and will have a major impact on the Home Office’s work to secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and continue to attract the brightest and the best to the UK.

The Immigration Act will:
·         reduce the number of immigration decisions that can be appealed from 17 to 4, whilst introducing a quick and cost-effective system of Administrative Review to correct case-working errors – preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights;
·         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;
·         reform the removals process, replacing the current multiple decision points with a single decision notice to ensure individuals are in no doubt as to their immigration status and their liability to removal;
·         reinforce our commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes by putting key elements of the family returns process into law;
·         restrict the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail unless there has been a material change of circumstances;
·         require private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing (this will be implemented in one geographical area first and the results evaluated before it is extended);
·         introduce a new requirement for temporary migrants with a time-limited immigration status in non-exempt categories to make a financial contribution to our National Health Service;
·         require banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before openingbank accounts;
·         make it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties;
·         introduce new powers to check applicants’ immigration status before issuing driving licences and to revoke licences where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK;
·         clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership;
·         allow the Home Secretary to deprive a naturalised British citizen of their citizenship in cases where they have conducted themselves in a way which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK, where the Home Secretary has reasonable grounds for believing the person is able to become a national of another country;
·         correct an anomaly in nationality law to enable certain children born before 1 July 2006 to a British father but whose parents were not married at the time to apply to be registered as British citizens and acquire their father’s British nationality. This rectifies a historical anomaly and provides all children with the same rights, irrespective of whether their parents were married when they were born.

These changes continue our reforms to build an immigration system which works in the UK’s national interest. We are stopping migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reducing the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK for the wrong reasons, and making it easier to remove people who should not be here. Net migration from outside the EU is now at its lowest level since 1998. At the same time, we continue to welcome the brightest and best migrants who want to contribute to our economy and society and play by the rules.

There is still work to do to clear up the mess we inherited from Labour – but the Immigration Act is a significant step along the way: it will put the law firmly on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it. I have spent the best part of a year as a small cog in a larger wheel bringing about these changes. The Bill was supported across all aspects of House of Commons.