Published 17 October 2013 | Research papers RP13/59
Melanie Gower, Wendy Wilson, Tom Powell, Tim Edmonds, Louise Butcher
Asylum, Family law, Financial services, Health services, Housing, Immigration, Marriage, Roads
The Immigration Bill, Bill 110 of 2013-14 is due to have its Second Reading in the Commons on 22 October. It is the Government’s first major piece of immigration legislation. The Government has made many significant reforms to the immigration system since coming into power, but these have generally been implemented through changes to secondary legislation, and changes to the Immigration Rules. Net migration has fallen under the current Government, although it is no longer falling according to the most recent data.
The Bill is in seven parts and contains eight Schedules.
Part 1 and Schedules 1 and 2 seek to simplify the removal process for persons who do not have leave to enter/remain and to prevent late challenges to removal. Decisions about immigration status and removal would be combined, and there would be new restrictions on immigration detainees’ rights to apply for bail. Immigration officers’ powers, and powers to collect, use and retain biometric information from applicants are extended.
Immigration appeal rights would be significantly reduced by Part 2. Only decisions to refuse a human rights claim or refuse or revoke refugee or humanitarian protection status would attract a right of appeal. The Home Office would be able to deport foreign criminals appealing to stay in the UK on human rights grounds before the appeal has been determined, unless they face a real risk of “serious irreversible harm”. The Bill specifies certain factors that a court or tribunal must consider when assessing whether interference with a person’s Article 8 rights is proportionate.
Part 3 and Schedule 3 to the Bill would introduce new powers to regulate migrants’ access to certain services, including their ability to rent a private sector tenancy, open a bank account and obtain/retain a driving licence. Migrants with time limited immigration status would be required to make a contribution to the National Health Service.
New powers to investigate ‘sham’ marriages and civil partnerships in England and Wales are provided for by Part 4 and Schedules 4 and 5. The notice period would be extended to 28 days, or 70 days for cases which involve a non-EEA national and are being investigated by the Home Office under a new “referral and investigation” scheme.
The Immigration Services Commissioner’s powers to take action against unscrupulous immigration advisers are extended by Part 5 and Schedule 6.
The Government is committed to reintroducing exit checks by spring 2015. Part 6 and Schedule 7 would enable third parties such as port and transport carrier staff to play a role in these, by exercising immigration officers’ powers to examine persons departing the UK. Also, processes for setting and amending fees for immigration applications and services would be simplified, in order to give the Government greater flexibility over how fees are set.