The 2015 Immigration Bill - | Hudson McKenzie

The 2015 Immigration Bill

October 12, 2015 | Immigration, News

The first reading of the Immigration Bill 2015 has now been published. Below you will find an overview of some of the amendments that have been made:

Summary of the 2015 Bill

  • To make a provision for language requirements for public sector workers.
  • To make a provision for fees pertaining to passports and civil registration.
  • To make a provision for the law on immigration and asylum.
  • To make a provision regarding access to services, facilities, licenses and work by reference to immigration status.

As per usual, the key aim is to crack down on and reduce the numbers of illegal workers entering and general migration to the UK. The main changes with the most potential to affect UK employers are as follows:

Skills Charge

In an effort to lessen the demand for migrant labour, the Bill is set to establish an ‘immigration skills charge’, applicable to certain employers sponsoring migrants under Tier 2 of the Points Based System. The amount to be charged has not yet been confirmed. Employers to who the charge will apply will have to pay before bringing certain workers into the UK. Apparently, the charge is being introduced to generate funds which will be used to develop skills in the UK resident labour market.

The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) is currently reviewing the Tier 2 category and will consider the impact of the charge. The MAC has though already said that they feel the government should reconsider its introduction as well as the increase in the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer – Long Term Staff) salary threshold from £20,800 to £41,500. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will consult separately.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire stated: “In the past it has been too easy for some businesses to bring in workers from overseas rather than to take the long-term decision to train our workforce here at home. It is only right to recover some of the costs running our immigration system by making sure that those who benefit directly from it contribute appropriately – so the expense to the UK tax payer is less. Our reforms will ensure that businesses are able to attract the skilled migrants they need, but we also want them to get far better at recruiting and training UK workers first.”

English Language

All employees within the public sector in client facing roles will be required to speak a fluent level of English. The proposals are to introduce a code of practice, setting out the minimum standard of English public sector employees will need to achieve. The main sectors to be affected are, (i) NHS, (ii) Police Force, and (iii) State funded schools.

Access to Services and Illegal Working

It is being proposed to limit access to certain services, such as housing, driving licenses and bank accounts. This restriction is being introduced with the aim of preventing people who are in the UK illegally from living in a way they should not. There will also be further measures put in place to prevent the exploitation of workers in the way of cheap labour and/or hiring of those in the country illegally. A higher penalty than present is likely to be charged for those who fall foul.

Concluding remarks

Unlike the skills charge, we believe that the introduction of the English language requirement is reasonable given that it is being introduced to ensure that vital information is delivered correctly to the public. As a result of Cameron’s previous broken promises pertaining to UK migration levels, we are not surprised to see a tightening on certain rules and regulations. These will probably be the first of many to come. If you would like to speak to our experienced and dedicated team of immigration lawyers about how these changes might affect you, please contact us on +44(0) 20 3318 5794 or at