Lawfulness of a minimum income threshold upheld under the new family migration rules

On the 11th July 2014, the lawfulness of a minimum income threshold was upheld by a Court of Appeal judgement under new family migration rules.

In July 2012, changes were made to immigration rules for British citizens who wanted to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner/children to come and live in the UK. Notably, a minimum income threshold was introduced for sponsorship applications.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee suggested that this threshold should be set at £18,600 for a spouse/partner, increasing to £22,400 for sponsoring a child and an extra £2,400 for every additional child applying.

A High Court judgement in July 2013, which found that the impact of the minimum income threshold may be disproportionate on family life, was overturned on the 11th July 2014.

This judgement will mean that previous cases which met every requirement excluding the minimum income threshold, could be refused unless there are extenuating circumstances. The 4,000 individuals with applications on hold will now receive a decision from the 28th July onwards.

Londoners and Graduates of the opinion that Immigration is good for the UK Economy

Recent legislative changes to UK Immigration Law have paved the way for economic prosperity here in Britain. One notable example is the expansion of the exceptional talent route, allowing Tech City UK to endorse top innovators in their field to come to the UK without the need for a sponsoring employer.

As far as Graduates and Londoners go, these types of changes can continue as 60% of the former and 54% of the latter believe that immigration is beneficial for the economy. This compares with 28% of people in other parts of the UK and 17% of those without qualifications. These statistics come from the latest British Social Attitudes Survey, which also highlights a number of prevalent issues, including the unavoidable divide on immigration.

The groups who dominate British political and social institutions such as Londoners, who are in much more frequent contact with migrants, and middle class professionals all tend to be more positive about immigration. In contrast, the vast majority of other groups are negative, possibly illustrating the widespread notion that the ‘ruling classes’ are out of touch on the issue.

It is important that the British public are made aware of not only the benefit of migrants and their wide range of cultures and skill sets, but also that the Government is making every effort to reduce immigration, but in a manner that will benefit the UK in the long run.

UK Immigration Act, 13th May 2014. Statement of Important Changes

Legislative changes in UK immigration law will have an important impact both on people looking to work in the UK and potential employers. Here are a number of key points to take note of.

1. Right-to-work checks

Right-to-work checks, as part of the recruitment process, must be carried out to make sure that only those people who are legally entitled to work in the UK are taken on by employers. Reducing the number of acceptable documents for right to work has made it easier for employers. There is therefore less chance of old, easily-forged documents being used by respective workers during the employment process.

2. Civil penalty increase

If found to be employing an illegal migrant without undertaking the necessary checks, the new law means employers are susceptible to a maximum penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, with a starting point of £15,000 for a first-time offence.

3. Director and partner liability

Directors and partners of limited-liability businesses will be held jointly liable for penalties, and action will be taken against businesses that fail to pay the civil penalties imposed for employing illegal workers.

4. Students’ right to work

Because of restrictions on their ability to work, employing international students can be problematic. The Act requires migrant students to provide evidence of their term dates as part of the right-to-work checks to prevent students breaching their visa conditions. The Government intends to consult various education providers before introducing the measure to make it simpler for employers to complete checks on their student workforce.

5. Restrictions on appeal

The Act removes the right of appeal for the majority of immigration applications, reducing 17 rights of appeal to only 4. Home Secretary Teresa May claims that the Act creates “an effective and efficient appeals system”. Although aimed towards preventing foreign criminals from remaining in the UK, one consequence is that some migrants not being able to appeal against unfair immigration decisions.

Other significant changes

Tech City UK

Expanding the exceptional talent route was announced by the Prime Minister last December and will allow Tech City UK to endorse top innovators and professionals in their field so that they can then come to the UK without the need for a sponsoring employer.

China Relations

Creating a new category for overseas government sponsored language teachers will enable teachers to raise knowledge and awareness of Chinese culture and society in the UK. With its economic presence and global influence, it is of utmost importance to nurture a strong and long lasting relationship with China.

 

Immigration Rules – Statement of Changes, March 2014

On 13th March 2014 a statement of changes to the immigration rules was presented to parliament.

The policy paper can be found on https://www.gov.uk

Changes to Immigration Rules include:

For Sponsored Workers under Tier 2

  • Allow Tier 2 (ICT) and Tier (General) applicants to be granted up to 5 years’ leave (rather than up to 3 years’) at a time;
  • An annual update to the minimum salary thresholds for appropriate salary rates for individual occupations (as set out in the codes of practice);
  • A rise in the minimum rate required to qualify for Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term staff. This has risen to £24,500;
  • A rise in the minimum rate required to qualify for Tier 2 (ICT) Long Term staff. This has risen to £41,000;
  • A rise in the minimum rate required to qualify for Tier 2 (General). This has risen to £20,500;

Cross-cutting PBS changes;

  • A rise in the rate of ‘maintenance’ fund thresholds for PBS migrant and their dependants in line with changes to the cost of living since the last update in 2012.

2014 Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill is currently completing its Parliamentary passage and once Royal Assent has been received, the measures within the Bill are expected to be implemented from summer 2014 onwards.  

What we are Home Office wish to do: 

  • Reform the removals and appeals system, making it easier and quicker to remove those with no right to be here;
  • End the abuse of Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life;
  • Prevent illegal immigrants accessing and abusing public services or the labour market.

How the Home Office are going to do it: 

The Bill will make it:

  1. easier to identify illegal immigrants by extending:
  • powers to collect and check fingerprints;
  • powers to search for passports;
  • powers to implement embarkation controls;
  • powers to examine the status and credibility of migrants seeking to marry or enter into civil partnership.

2.  easier to remove and deport illegal immigrants by:

  • cutting the number of decisions that can be appealed from 17 to 4 – preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights;
  • extending the number of non-suspensive appeals. Where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, we should deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later;
  • ensuring the courts have regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires when considering Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights in immigration cases;
  • restricting the ability of immigration detainees to apply repeatedly for bail if they have previously been refused it.

3. more difficult for illegal immigrants to live in the UK by:

  • requiring private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented housing;
  • making it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties;
  • prohibiting banks from opening current accounts for migrants identified as being in the UK unlawfully, by requiring banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening accounts;
  • introducing new powers to check driving licence applicants’ immigration status before issuing a licence and revoking licences where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK.

In addition the Bill also contains measures to:

  • introduce a new requirement for temporary migrants who have only a time-limited immigration status to make a contribution to the National Health Service;
  • simplify the current fees legislation, which is spread across a number of different Acts, amending the criteria and process in regards to the Home Office’s ability to charge fees for immigration services.

Taken together, these measures aim to make the UK the least attractive destination for illegal immigrants, reinforcing the message that the UK welcome legal migrants who contribute to the UK economy and society but will take firm action against those who break the rules.

 

UKVI announce new application fees

February 2014

increased immigration fees from 6th April 2014. Some major categories see increases of more than 38%.

On 3rd February 2014 The Minister for Immigration, Mark Harper announced proposals to change the fees for immigration and nationality applications made to United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and for services provided by the department. The new fees will be brought into force from 6 April 2014 with some fees for premium services overseas coming into effect on 31 March 2014.

In developing these proposals, the Home Office has sought to limit most increases to 4%. Fee changes are implemented in April each year and the Home Office states that funding is necessary to operate effective immigration controls and invest in improving service levels to customers.

There are further targeted increases to bring dependant fees in line with main application fees, to register as a British Citizen and some premium services. For certain application categories, the Home Office will continue to set fees higher than the administrative cost to reflect their value to successful applicants. One of the most startling increases affects dependants of Points Based System migrant workers in the UK who wish to extend their stay or apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain). A 38.4% minimum fee increase is proposed in these categories.

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