Tue | Nov 30, 2021

What of the new UK immigration law?

Published:Tuesday | June 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM
John Bassie, UNITED KINGDOM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I understand that there is a new immigration law that has been enacted in the United Kingdom. If this is so, please provide me with some more information. Thanks in advance.

F.I.

Dear F.I.,

There has been an Immigration Bill that has recently received Royal Assent on May 14, 2014. It is referred to as the Immigration Act 2014. It has been stated by the United Kingdom authorities that this act embodies a number of reforms that are aimed at being more equitable to British citizens and legitimate migrants and stricter on those with no legitimate right to be in the United Kingdom.

The Immigration Act 2014 contains 77 sections and does make some fundamental changes with respect to how the United Kingdom's immigration system operates.

The act aims to achieve these changes by limiting the factors that draw illegal migrants to the United Kingdom. It will make it easier to remove those without any right to be there, and it will 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.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence", subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society".

Article 8 states:

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The British authorities have stated that the Immigration Act is legislation that will endeavour to build on the existing reforms and to ensure that the immigration system works in the British national interest. The implementation process plans to introduce these measures quickly and effectively.

The act will also significantly enhance the way Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, and UK Visas & Immigration undertake their work to secure the border, enforce the immigration rules, and continue to attract the brightest and the best persons to the United Kingdom.

There are a number of significant highlights of the new Immigration Act. For instance, the act has cut the number of immigration decisions that can be appealed from 17 to four, while it allows for certain harmful individuals to be returned to the countries from which they hailed before their appeals are heard as long as there is no risk of serious, irreversible harm.

As previously stated, the act will ensure that the courts have regard to Parliament's view of what the public interest requires when considering European Convention of Human Rights Article 8 claims in immigration cases, and it will seek to make clear that the right to family life is not to be regarded as absolute and unqualified.

The law will seek to assist the British authorities in clamping down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership. It will also now require private landlords to check the immigration status of tenants and subsequently prevent those without any right to live in the United Kingdom from accessing private rented housing.

The act will also introduce a new requirement from temporary migrants, who have time-limited immigration status, by requiring them to make a financial contribution to the National Health Service.

BAIL APPLICATIONS

Another feature of the Immigration Act will also include that the authorities will have powers to prevent repeat bail applications when removal of a person is imminent. The act will allow for the revocation of British driving licences that are held by immigration offenders. The act will also allow the home secretary to deprive a naturalised individual of his British citizenship if his actions have been seriously prejudicial to the interests of the United Kingdom and the home secretary has reasonable grounds for believing that such a person is able to become a national of another country.

It has been stated by the British authorities that this Immigration Act has been a collaborative effort, involving the Home Office, 12 other government departments, the devolved administrations, and the Crown dependencies. It is anticipated that the act will assist in reducing net migration by focusing on eliminating immigration abuse, including removing from the United Kingdom those without any right to be there and preventing similar persons from entering.

I hope this sheds some light on this topic.

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 (U.K.). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com.