House of Commons Debate: Immigration Bill 2015
Today, the House of Commons will have a general debate on the second reading of the Immigration Bill 2015. The Bill seeks to implement various changes to key areas, some of which have been summarized below.
The introduction of a new criminal offence under the Bill, with a maximum custodial sentence of 51 weeks and/ or a fine for persons working illegally in the UK without acceptable right to work documentation. Further new powers for immigration officers will enable them to close down businesses and even seize employee’s earnings.
Employers may be obliged to pay an ‘immigration skills charge’ for each skilled worker outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) sponsored under Tier 2 of the points based system. This will be power for the Secretary of State required by employers and it is proposed that the money raised would be used to fund UK apprentices.
Right to Rent Scheme
The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the requirement for landlords to check the immigration status of proposed tenants to be extended across the UK without the need for any change in legalisation. Furthermore powers to evict tenants with ‘no right to rent’ will be in force as well as the creation of a new criminal offence for landlords who knowingly rent to those with no immigration status.
Checks by Banks
Banks will be required to assist the closure of accounts held by any persons without lawful residence in the UK. This will be facilitated by periodic checks on the immigration status of account holders and imposing reporting duties on landlords to notify the Home Office if a person does not have the appropriate lawful status.
Under a new offence, immigration officers and the police will have the power to search and seize driving licenses of any persons driving without lawful residence in the UK.
Appeals under Human Rights Grounds
Under the Bill any persons in the UK who appeal against an immigration decision under Human Right grounds e.g. Article 8, the right to a private and family life, will not be able to remain in the UK unless leaving would cause ‘serious and irreversible harm’ with the exception of appeals brought under the Refugee Convention or Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Appeals can be made outside of the UK which predictably create interference with lives in the UK as well as practical difficulties.
Legislation will be replaced to provide support to failed asylum seekers who can demonstrate that they are destitute and that there is a genuine obstacle to removal from the UK. However there will be no right of appeal to challenge any decision to refuse or withdraw such support. Also, families who reach the end of the asylum process with children will no longer be entitled to access support under new criteria.
The Government in their target to reduce net immigration and clampdown have demonstrated through the proposed Bill that they seek to make it extremely challenging for those living in the UK with no legal status to continue to do so.