A number of changes to immigration law and policy are made every year but 2014 promises to be significant both for migrants wishing to come to the UK and those already here.
Changes are usually made in April and at the end of the year, so Part 1 of this article will focus on the major developments expected in first half of this year and Part 2, to be published in the summer, will look at what changes have taken place and what is planned for the second half of the year.
The Tier 1 (Investor) route - the Migration Advisory Committee's report on the economic benefit to the UK gains from the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route is due on 7 February 2014. The report will contain a number of suggested changes to the route which may include raising the required investment level, altering the permitted investments, auctioning a proportion of the available visas and/or requiring migrants to donate to infrastructure, education or the arts.
The Immigration Bill - the Bill has proved controversial since it was unveiled in October 2013. Amongst other provisions, in its current form the Bill removes nearly all of the rights of appeal an applicant has against a Home Office decision and severely restricts the grounds on which those remaining appeals can be brought. It also introduces a problematic new requirement for private landlords to conduct immigration status checks. The Bill is currently being scrutinised by the Commons Public Bill Committee. No date has yet been set for the Committee's report.
The civil penalty regime for employers - a number of changes are due to come into force in April 2014. The details are not yet known but it is expected that the maximum penalty for employing a migrant worker illegally will be doubled to £20,000, the number of mitigating circumstances will be reduced and the annual right to work checks may be removed.
Benefits restrictions for EU migrants - following on from David Cameron's announcement in November 2013 that he would toughen access to welfare benefits for EU migrants, the government has stated this week that it will withdraw entitlement to housing benefit from April onwards. In addition, a new ban is now in force which prevents EU migrants from claiming jobseeker's allowance for the first 3 months after arrival in the UK. They can then only claim jobseeker's allowance for up to 6 months unless they can show that they have genuine prospects of finding work.
We will continue to update clients on the changes relevant to them as and when they occur.
For more information please contact Katherine Dennis, Associate