The Home Office opens it Pandora Box yet again!
The Home Office has announced a number of measures allegedly intended to prohibit abuse of the UK immigration system and protect migrants in the UK. These measures are due to come into effect on 06 April 2015 which in our opinion can be severely detrimental and have far-reaching consequences. The changes are lsted below:-
Power to recall for interview those in the UK with limited leave
The Home Office will be granted powers to request persons already in the UK with limited leave to remain to attend interviews and/or provide evidence to demonstrate they still satisfy the Immigration rules. Failure to provide evidence or attend an interview could ultimately result in visa curtailment. This is a major amendment to the current system as migrants cannot presently be compelled to attend an interview.
Changes to valid applications
Migrants will be required to provide an original, valid passport or travel document to make a valid application for leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain. If the migrant is in the UK under the Points Based System, they will be able to provide a national identity card. The only circumstances in which a migrant will be exempt from this rule are if: (i) they are stateless, (ii) they are a refugee, or (iii) they have a ‘good’ reason beyond their control for not providing the said document.
Amendments to administrative review
From 02 March 2015 onwards, administrative review was available for decisions given on all Points Based System tiers where the application was made on or after that date. In addition to correcting casework errors in leave to remain applications, administrative review will be available from 06 April 2015 for certain decision to cancel leave at the border and refusals of entry clearance overseas.
Changes pertaining to grounds for refusal
A new power is being introduced enabling the government to demand an entry clearance applicant to provide a criminal record certificate from any country they have resided in for twelve months or more in the last 10 years leading up to their date of application. This will be introduced on a phased country-by-country basis. There will be exceptions regarding those under eighteen years of age or where it is not ‘reasonably practical’ as the country does not produce certificates.
Where does this leave us?
Taking into account the upcoming elections, these changes could not be any more timely for supporting David Cameron and his campaigning efforts. Mr Cameron has come under immense pressure, accused of ‘weakening government credibility’, due to recently published figures on annual net UK migration, reaching 298,000 – close to record levels. These figures have raised long predicted concerns and doubts over Cameron’s ability to govern, compounded by his speech where he announced his flagship target of cutting net migration to the tens of thousands. In recent months, Theresa May, the home secretary, has described Cameron’s pledge to cut net migration as ‘nothing more than a comment’, a statement with which we agree.
It would be fair to say that we can now expect to see the Home Office rejecting more immigration applications than ever before. We believe that there would be a greater level of abuse of these new rules by the Home Office. It is important to remember though that the Home Office can only curtail an individual’s visa if there is substantial and genuine reason to do so and no act arbitrarily. It will be interesting to see how these new amendments play out in practice.
If you require any further information as to how the new rules will affect you, please contact the Global Mobility Professional you deal with at the firm. Alternatively please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +44 (0) 20 3318 5794.