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IMMIGRATION CORNER - Tell me about the changes

Published:Tuesday | November 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

A relative of mine is facing deportation from the United Kingdom and I have been told that there is a new act that introduces some changes. If there are any, I am hoping that you can tell me about them.

- SP

Dear SP,

There have been some significant reforms made to the immigration appeals system in the Immigration Act 2014 and these are supposed to be phased in by the end of 2014. It is anticipated that these provisions will make it easier to deport foreign criminals and build upon other significant reforms that have already been made.

It should be noted that in July 2014 the British authorities introduced new powers to prevent convicted criminals using family life arguments to delay deportation. The authorities have reported that this has been successful as it has enabled the Home Office to deport over 100 criminals since July; however, some are pending appeal.

One of the most significant changes to deportation appeals has been that as of November 2014 any convicted criminals who are liable for deportation will no longer be able to appeal against a decision that states that deportation is conducive to the public good. This means that those criminals who fall into this category will be deported and will not be able to appeal prior to deportation unless they face a real risk of serious irreversible harm. For those persons who have an appeal right, they will only be able to appeal once.

Also, the new Act has reformed the appeals system for students. In the past, under the old system, any appeal made by students that had merit was a costly and time-consuming way to correct usually simple case-work errors which could be resolved by a request to the Home Office to review the decision. The new immigration rules have now provided a system of administrative review through which casework errors will be corrected within 28 days rather than 12 weeks. This is aimed at supporting the British policy of attracting immigrants who benefit the United Kingdom's businesses and universities. Conversely, for non-compliant students the new appeals reforms, combined with the new single power of removal, will make removal much quicker and more legally straightforward.

There has been anticipation of the implementation of new restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented housing. Through the Immigration Act, the authorities have stated that the scheme will start from 1 December, 2014. It is anticipated that this will allow for further secondary legislation to be laid before Parliament shortly thereafter.

There are further measures in the new Act that are also being brought into force. Some of the measures being implemented include a measure to limit the ability of immigration detainees to make repeat bail applications; and also to extend the powers of the Immigration Services Commissioner to combat rogue immigration advisers. There are also plans in place to allow for the government, in due course, to lay before Parliament the secondary legislation needed to implement the NHS health surcharge and to implement the changes to the process for giving notice of marriage or civil partnership in an effort to combat sham marriages and civil partnerships.

In addition, and just for completeness, it should be stated that there are other reforms being implemented by the British authorities that are also aimed at strengthening the regime and further enhancing security.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email