October 2014:   Implementation of the Immigration Act
 
Minister of State, James Brokenshire, has announced that from 20 October 2014 criminals will “no longer be able to appeal against a decision that their deportation is conducive to the public good” and “will not be able to appeal beforehand unless they face a real risk of serious irreversible harm”. He also stated that the first phase of the implementation of new restrictions on irregular migrants accessing rented housing will start from 1 December in the West Midlands; that measures are being brought into force to limit the ability of immigration detainees to make repeat bail applications; and the secondary legislation needed to implement the NHS health surcharge will soon be brought before Parliament.  

July 2014
What Every Woman needs to know before they go for an asylum interview:
http://bordercriminologies.law.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Health-Stu-Why-Refugee-Women-A5-Flyer-129784.pdf

9 July 2014: Mr Justice Ouseley found that  there are “serious failings” in the system and that the Detained Fast Track as currently operated “carries an unacceptably high risk of unfairness.”

http://themigrantslawproject.org/about-us/news/


ILPA’s Information Service Update for:
1. Bail - New restrictions on the right to bail for those detained under immigration powers, there are two material changes: The Act provides that a person cannot be released on bail by the Tribunal where their removal is set to take place within 14 days, unless the Home Secretary consents.  The Act provides that the Tribunal must refuse any bail application made within 28 days of a previous application for bail, absent proof of a ‘material change of circumstances’. The changes have not yet come into force and full details of how they will work in practice are awaited; this will depend on rules published by the Tribunal Procedure Committee.
ILPA Information Sheet: Immigration Act – Bail
2. Loss of Appeal Rights - One of the biggest impacts of the Act will be the removing of rights of appeal to the First tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). >From now on, appeals to this independent Tribunal will only be possible against decisions to refuse claims for asylum or human rights protection, and then only on grounds that the decision breaches rights under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights respectively.
ILPA Information Sheet: Immigration Act – Appeals
3. Housing – The Immigration Act contains provisions which will require private landlords to conduct immigration status checks on new tenants. The provisions are not yet in force. The intention is to prevent those who do not have permission to be in the UK from renting accommodation. Landlords who fail to carry out the immigration checks, or who rent to a person whose immigration status (or lack of one) means that they do not have a “right to rent”, will face hefty financial penalties of up to £3,000. Employers have been required to carry out similar checks for some time1; however these provisions are the first time that landlords have been required to carry out immigration checks on their tenants.
ILPA Information Sheet: Immigration Act – Housing
4.  Healthcare – introduction of healthcare charges for certain categories of migrants to the United Kingdom. Regulations setting out the detail of the charging regime have not yet been published, but are expected later this year. The intention is that persons affected will be required to pay an annual levy for access to the National Health Service (NHS) for each of the years of their proposed stay, payable at the point of applying for their visa.
ILPA Information Sheet: Immigration Act – Healthcare

May 2014

Immigration Act  – You can download a copy of the summary provisions drawn up by Saira Grant from JCWI on the MAX website.

Short link: http://wp.me/p3VEuj-4P


April 2014

Asylum Help is a range of new services helping asylum seekers move through the application system and understand the process. It replaces all other UK government funded asylum advice services and will begin from 1 April 2014.

Contact: Asylum Helpline (Advice) on 0808 8000 630 orhttp://www.asylumhelpuk.org


 

Please see link below for information on visa increases:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-and-nationality-services-change-in-fees-for-2014-to-2015


February 2014

Refugee Action has challenged the low rates of support available to asylum seekers at a case heard on 11-14 February 2014. See link:  http://themigrantslawproject.org/what-we-do/current-legal-work/section-95-challenge/,

The Immigration Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 10 February. Access to healthcare received significant attention from many speakers, with particular concerns raised around how the new system will deter people from accessing healthcare, the implications for public health and the consequences for children and pregnant women. Other Peers raised the issues of inadequate support for asylum seekers and the fact that most are not allowed to work.  The full debate can be accessed at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/lhan114.pdf

Committee starts in the Lords on 3 March and we hope to have amendments on health, support and permission to work discussed.
Phil Cooper, from Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum, has launched a petition on 38 Degrees calling on the House of Lords to amend aspects of the Immigration which can be accessed at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/reject-government-inspired-xenophobia# 

January 2014

New Service Standards for applications made in the UK – see link below

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2014/january/22-service?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ukborderagency+%28Immigration+news+and+updates%29

Human Rights Committee release critical report on the Immigration Bill

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has released its assessment of the Immigration Bill warning that the Bill risks subjecting ethnic minorities to discrimination.

In the Report, the Committee concludes that the restriction on appeal rights might constitute a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful immigration and asylum decisions, and to enforce the statutory duty to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when exercising immigration and asylum functions.

Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said:

  • “We commend the Department on conscientiously and constructively engaging with us in our scrutiny of this Bill and we welcome the fact that the Government’s ECHR Memorandum and the Minister’s letter shows that the best interests of children were properly considered when assessing the compatibility of some provisions in the Bill.
  • Effective immigration control is recognised by human rights law as a legitimate aim which governments are entitled to pursue, and my Committee accepts that the measures in this Bill are intended to pursue that aim.  However, creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants carries risks that the measures will have unintended consequences and lead to breaches of human rights and unjustified discrimination in practice.
  • My Committee is especially concerned about the restrictions on accessing residential tenancies according to immigration status, as these may expose children, and other migrants who have no right to be in the UK but face genuine obstacles to leaving, to the risk of homelessness, and could be applied in a way which is racially discriminatory.  We likewise believe that the Bill’s significant limitation of appeal rights against immigration and asylum decisions, when considered alongside other proposals such as a residence test for legal aid and restrictions on judicial review, represent a serious threat to the practical ability to access the legal system to challenge unlawful decisions.”
More Legal Aid Woe Coming Your Way
ILPA Immigration Update
The Government proposes to further restrict access to legal aid in the New Year, despite the full effects of the changes to the legal aid regime brought into force in April 2013 not yet being felt. As legal aid lawyers struggle to operate within the strictures of the new scheme, the Government continues to press forwards with the erosion of access to justice for those who can least afford it.   Residence test It is proposed that civil legal aid would for the first time be pegged to an immigration status requirement: lawful residence in the UK. This has far-reaching consequences, as it would apply across all areas of law, not just immigration. Legal aid would be refused outright unless an individual demonstrate that they meet a two-pronged residence test: (i) Lawful residence in the UK as at the date of application for civil legal aid; and (ii) Lawful residence in the UK for a continuous period of 12 months at some time prior to this date.
Although this requirement would apply to everyone, across all areas of civil law (e.g. family and housing law), migrants are likely to be affected adversely the most.
Judicial Review
The residence test outlined above would act as a barrier to judicial review, the primary means for individuals to seek redress for unlawful state action. In addition, the Government intends to remove legal aid from work done by lawyers to prepare a judicial review case at the early stages of proceedings (prior to getting ‘permission’ from the Court to bring the judicial review). The work would instead be “at risk”, meaning the lawyer would only be paid if the case is ultimately successful in getting permission. What this means in practice is that individuals eligible for legal aid would be less likely to find a lawyer willing to take on their case, given the financial risks involved.
Prisons
It is proposed to deny legal assistance to everyone in the prison estate seeking challenge their conditions or treatment. This includes persons detained in a prison under immigration powers (i.e. not serving a criminal sentence). This is of particular concern, given the fact that the UK has frequently been found in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights for its treatment of foreign nationals in detention including, four times in the last two years for breaches of Article 3, the prohibition on torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Borderline cases
Currently, if a case is ‘borderline’, in that it has 50:50 prospects of success, it can still be granted legal aid, if it is of “overwhelming importance” to the client. This is defined to include cases concerning the life, liberty or physical safety of the individual, or where they are at risk of becoming homeless. The Government now proposes to remove this borderline category altogether. This would put individuals at risk in cases where the merits are not wholly clear at the outset, but where the case is of fundamental importance.
Overall Legal aid is designed to ensure that the poorest members of our society are able to enforce their rights. The proposed legal aid reforms would prevent an entire subset of individuals from access to justice based on nothing more than length of stay in the UK, no matter how serious the infringement of their rights. The Legal Aid proposals, together with the intended new restrictions on Judicial Review, would combine to insulate public decision-making from effective legal scrutiny and undermine the rule of law.
No-one will feel the effects of these changes more than migrants with precarious status in the UK. Already by definition a group who are open to exploitation, in future these individuals face having their rights trampled on, without any means of redress.
Source:  ILPA Information Service Update 56:

Immigration Bill

The full Immigration Bill is now available at:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0110/14110.pdf

The Home Office have issued  Fact Sheets which summarises what is in the Bill which are available at::
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249251/Overview_Immigration_Bill_Factsheet.pdf

For a quick summary of what’s in it, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24469584

Changes to Immigration Rules

A statement of changes to the immigration rules was laid before Parliament on 6 September.  The government intends that they will come into effect on 1 October 2013.

Click on links for 1) full statement and 2) what it means.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/statement-of-changes-in-immigration-rules–5

http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2013/new-statement-changes-immigration-rules?utm_source=Migrants+Rights+News&utm_campaign=74d181558c-MRN_News_9-9-2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1084a7080c-74d181558c-217247841

Home Affairs Committee – 7th report on Asylum – 8 October 2013

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/7102.htm

Legal Aid Reforms: Government rethinks “Residence Test” (6 September 2013)

Following the consultation on Legal Aid Reforms the government has introduced key exceptions to the residence test (need for continuous 12 month lawful residence in order to access legal aid), including:

  • Babies under 12 months old who are lawfully resident.
  • Fresh asylum claims. Asylum seekers are exempt until their case is decided, including appeals. However, it was unclear whether fresh claims by asylum seekers who had applied in the past would be eligible. The government has confirmed it is.
  • Cases ‘which broadly relate to an individual’s liberty, where the individual is particularly vulnerable or where the case relates to the protection of children’, including
  • Detention cases
  • Victims of trafficking
  • Victims of domestic violence and forced marriage
  • Protection of children cases
  • Special Immigration Appeals Commission

For successful asylum seekers the government is also proposing that the qualifying period for continuous 12 month lawful residence begins from the date when the claim is submitted rather than when the claim is decided

On Monday 1st April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force.

It means fewer people  have access to free legal representation and if you have a legal problem there is now more chance that you will have to represent yourself.

The Bar Council have prepared a Guide to  help you to understand how the justice system should work.  You can download the guide here . . . .
http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/instructing-a-barrister/representing-yourself-in-court/

In the Queen’s Speech the Government announced plans to limit the use of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We  should be very wary about this proposal, as it could greatly alter the balance of power between judges and the Executive.

Read more: Adam Wagner, New Statesman, 08/05/13

26 March 2013: Home Secretary announces the split up of the UKBA into:

1) Immigration and Visa Service

2) Immigration Law Enforcement Unit

For full statement see link below:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2013/march/42-hom-sec

On 25 March the Home Affairs Select Committee published its report on “The work of the UK Border Agency (July–September 2012)”.  The report is very critical of UKBA and is available at:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmhaff/792/792.pdf

Immigration Rules
HC 1039 comes into force on 6 April 2013. These lengthy rule changes affect the PBS in various ways; and inter alia ‘clarify the current General Visitor rules to guard against abuse by those whose repeat visits amount to de facto residence'; make minor changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules relating to family and private life; introduce into the Rules requirements necessary for granting discretionary leave to unaccompanied asylum seeking children; and make provision in the Immigration Rules for a person to apply to be recognised as stateless and to be granted leave to remain in the UK in that capacity.
To read further summary click here . . . .
To see the new Rules, click here . . . .

2012

The Chief Inspector’s report on UKBA’s handling of the legacy asylum and migration cases was published on 22 November. To read the full report go to: http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk/