Here is a summary of the changes, with our explanation of the changes most relevant to our readers:
- making asylum claims from EU nationals invalid, unless exceptional circumstances apply
Although asylum claims from EU nationals prior to these changes were almost always considered ‘clearly unfounded‘ and refused, without the right to appeal in the UK, this change means that the Home Office now will not interview someone from the EU who claims asylum. In affect, they will not consider the asylum application (unless you can demonstrate ‘exceptional circumstances’, which are likely to need to meet a very high threshold indeed).
- clarifying the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn
The Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, said:
The changes clarify terminology and make clear that refugee status can be withdrawn where evidence emerges that such status was obtained by deception or where it is clear that protection is no longer needed. It can also be withdrawn where someone commits a serious crime or is a considered a danger to our national security such that they do not deserve our protection and all the benefits that come with that status.
Existing provisions on the revocation of refugee status are also being extended to include those who instigate or otherwise participate in acts covered by Article 1F of the Refugee Convention, including those who engage in extremist activities that represent a threat to our national security.
- ensuring indefinite leave and naturalisation applicants, who normally rely on an English language qualification, take a secure English language test
- the introduction of the £35k minimum earnings threshold for Tier 2 settlement, which will come into force on 6 April 2016.
The £35,000 minimum earnings threshold (it could be higher, depending on the occupation) will apply to European Economic Area/Swiss nationals who have come to the UK since April 2011 with either a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa.
A Tier 2 visa is available for people from outside of the EEA/Switzerland and who have been offered a skilled job in the UK.
Tier 2 settlement refers to people who have a Tier 2 visa, have been in the UK for 5 years and are applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
There will be some exceptions to this requirement, such as occupations on the shortage occupation list or certain PhD level jobs in science and research.
If you are not earning enough to apply for settlement, your stay in the UK will be capped at six years in total. The government says:
“They will then be required to leave the UK. They won’t be able to apply for another Tier 2 visa until they have competed a 12 month ‘cooling off’ period outside the UK.”
The capping of your stay in the UK at 6 years may affect your ability to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) under the ‘ten-year route‘. Read more about that in our Toolkit
Thousands of foreign students at publicly funded colleges are to lose the right to work in Britain while they study. The immigration minister, James Brokenshire, announced on Monday that from next month students from outside the European Union who come to study at publicly funded further education colleges will lose the right to work for up to 10 hours a week. The “new crackdown on visa fraud”, as the Home Office describes it, is aimed at ensuring that student visas are used for study and “not as a backdoor to the country’s job market”.
Further measures will be introduced this autumn, including:
Reducing the length of further education visas from three years to two.
Preventing further education students from extending their studies in Britain unless they are registered at an institution with a formal link to a university.
Detained Fast Track Process Suspended – 2 July 2015 – Statement by Immigration minister James Brokenshire
Changes to asylum support come into force on 6 April 2015. All asylum seekers supported under s95 will get £36.95 a week for essential living needs. Greatest impact is on families as each child under 16 will get approx £16 less each week (additional amounts payable to pregnant women and children under 3 will continue)
The Home Office has announced that from 6 April 2015 all those who apply to renew non-protection based leave will be charged an application fee.
If the claimant’s fear is for reasons outside the Refugee Convention, there is separate guidance on eligibility for Humanitarian Protection (also known as subsidiary protection). If the claimant does not have protection needs, caseworkers must consider any human rights issues, as set out in the separate guidance on Family Leave and, outside the Immigration Rules, on Discretionary Leave.
The Home Office has announced that the £5 carryover limit for users of the Azure card will be removed from Monday 23 February 2015. Asylum seekers will be able to carry over unspent money from one week to the next if they become ill or if they are trying to save for particular items.
Read more: Hanna Hnoyc, UK Human Rights Blog, 05/02/15
26 January 2015 – ILPA – Update-65 for info on Stricter Rules for British Citizenship and New Removals Procedures Suspended.
26 January 2015: The Home Office announced that there will be “a short deferral of the start of the new arrangements” during which they will take account of the points raised with them. In the interim further submissions can continue to use existing arrangements.
To take action on this issue ask your MP to support EDM 714 on “Changes to rules on submitting new evidence in asylum cases”. The EDM was tabled by Julian Huppert MP, has 20 signatures to date and is supported by MPs from all the main parties. For the full text and current signatures go to: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/714. To find your MP go to: https://www.writetothem.com/
Immigration Act 2014 also means changes to Enforcement Powers , see link http://www.ilpa.org.uk/resources.php/30191/information-sheet-immigration-act-2014-enforcement-powers
Immigration Act means new changes re Marriage – look at link for info http://www.ilpa.org.uk/resources.php/30187/information-sheet-immigration-act-2014-marriage
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.
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
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:
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#
New Service Standards for applications made in the UK – see link below
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.”
The full Immigration Bill is now available at:
The Home Office have issued Fact Sheets which summarises what is in the Bill which are available at::
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.
Home Affairs Committee – 7th report on Asylum – 8 October 2013
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.
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:
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:
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.
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/