UK Immigration – The New Focus is Illegal Working and EU Reform
29 May 2015
The Queen’s speech, which announces the Government’s agenda for the next 5 years would not be the same without some proposals on immigration reform. We were not let down and the plan of attack will be a new Immigration Bill which will focus on illegal workers, overstayers and rogue employers.
The specific proposals are as follows:
- Further reforms to student visas (details to be announced); and
- There will be further emphasis on others policing the immigration system on behalf of the Government:
- Landlords and Agents
The scheme which is being piloted in the West Midlands requiring immigration checks on perspective tenants will be introduced Nationwide. See here for more information.
- There will be a new offence of illegal working, meaning that employees who are working in the UK illegally or working as overstayers could see their wages being confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.Whilst this measure is clearly targeting unscrupulous employers taking advantage of cheap illegal migrant labour, all employers should take note and ensure that you have rigorous checking procedures of “right to work” documents to prevent employees becoming overstayers or working illegally.
- There will be a new Labour Market Enforcement Agency set up to police illegal working and again employers should take note.There will be in my view an increase in unannounced visits and audits by the Home Office of your migrant activity as an employer, particularly if you are Sponsor Licence holder.Civil penalties for employing people without the right to work (currently £20,000) are more likely to be enforced as are suspensions or revocations of the sponsor licence if you are not meeting your sponsorship duties.
- The Bill will also make it illegal for employment agencies to recruit solely from abroad without advertising those jobs in Britain and in English.
- A consultation will be carried out on funding apprenticeship schemes for British and EU workers by implementing a new visa levy on businesses that use foreign labour.There is also a proposal that those employers that recruit “Shortage Occupations” will not be able to do so without providing a plan for skills development in their organisation.
Banks will be required to carry out rigorous checks on bank accounts of people in the UK illegally; and
- Immigration appeals to be phased out in-country with the principle of “deport first, appeal later” from criminal cases to apply to all immigration cases (exceptions being asylum cases and where it can be proven that it will cause serious harm to deport someone whilst their immigration appeal is pending).
These measures will be supported with the commencement of negotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU before the country votes on the “in/out” referendum in 2016/17.
With EU migration reaching a high of 268,000 in 2014 (201,000 the previous year – see further key migration figures here) the negotiations will focus on curbing immigration to the UK from the EU. The UK is keen to curb access to Social Security benefits to EU migrants such as time limits before EU migrants are able to access benefits. Current proposals include that a EU migrant must have worked in the UK for 6 months before being entitled to Job Seekers Allowance and barring access to tax credits for at least 4 years. Whilst other European countries may be sympathetic to this, however any direct attempt to curb free movement from within the EU will not receive the same support as free movement of capital, business and people are seen as the foundations of The Union. The government will nonetheless through legislation make it tougher for non-EU spouses to join EU citizens living in the UK through introducing stronger English language tests and maintenance requirements.
US immigration law is picking up pace in 2014, says Thalej Vasishta, owner and founder of Paragon Law. The firm initially introduced US immigration services in 2007 through their formal association with Nejame Law based in the US. Here he explains the latest developments.
Whilst the Conservative Government can rely on favourable statistics with regard to their handling of the UK economy the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on immigration to the UK (see figures below) however would suggest that the government has failed in their immigration policy.
I would argue that the perceived failure is of the government’s own making for pledging to cut immigration to the tens of thousands (which is now an “aim” as opposed to a “promise”) and which was fanciful and unrealistic. Matters such as a UK aging population, skills shortages in many sectors of the UK economy (which will take generations or more to rectify) and the fact that there are settled communities in the UK who will always have the need to invite loved ones means that a figures of tens of thousands is not going to be achieved and the government needs to be more honest about this.
I did welcome David Cameron’s statement of intent in his speech yesterday where it would appear that there is a shift of focus to “illegal” working and “illegal” immigration. This will inevitably lead to business owners, employers and landlords contributing to the policing of immigration control in the UK (more about this in the future article). Ultimately it is important that “all” immigration is tarnished with the same brush approach.
Business groups have urged the government to be clear that the UK will continue to welcome the brightest and the best from around the world to study at our universities and to contribute through work, investment or entrepreneurship to the UK economy. In the previous Term this government tarnished our reputation abroad by giving a perception that UK is not welcoming to migrants. This was as a consequence of too much pandering to the UKIP debate and generally tarnishing “all types” of immigration as being damaging to the UK. Often, statements of Ministers were picked up negatively by overseas media such as India (from where there has been a reduction in international students by 7%) which consequently is bound to have an effect on the other important stated aim to the UK economy – trade and investment with the rest of the world.
In a future article I will discuss the specific policy changes which are likely to affect you as an employer or as a business owner who relies on overseas workers. For now you will see below the key figures from the ONS statistics which have resulted in the knee-jerk reactions:
The Key Immigration Figures for 2014 Compared To 2013 at a Glance
|Non EU Immigration||
|Immigration For Work Purposes
|Work Related Visa’s Granted
|Immigration For Study
|Immigration To Join Family Members
On 22 April 2015 Nottingham had the honour and pleasure of hosting a delegation who had come to the city to explore business opportunities with India. The blog of Paragon Law MD, Thalej Vasishta, reflects on the visit and what it could bring to the local economy. To read the blog please click here.
Tricks of the Trade: Advice from Those Who’ve Made It Big
Paragon Law MD, Thalej Vasishta, has offered his advice to business start-ups via the entrepreneur.com website.
To view the full text of this article please click here
Talk to any business person who has done business with China and one word is certain to crop up and divide opinion every time ‘guanxi’. We don’t have a direct translation in English but in its broadest context it means ‘developing personal connections’. The power of guanxi is underestimated by so many businesses I speak with. In the UK we are lucky; we have a solid legal structure and business conventions that near enough everyone sticks to. This means we can parachute into a meeting, flick over our business card and start talking numbers. In China it is not so easy. Business is built around personal relationship. People would rather trade with their friends because they know what to expect. They are cautious about making business deals with new comers because the conventions we are privileged to enjoy in the UK, that of the hand shake and signing of deals, doesn’t carry much weight. In China, the best business is done between friends.
To read the full article by Paragon Law MD, Thalej Vasishta, please click here
Deirdre Sheahan, Associate Solicitor and head of the asylum team at Paragon Law has recently been quoted within a leading article in The Guardian examining the plight of Syrian Refugees.
The full article can be read below and highlights the important work done by Deirdre and her team in this complex and challenging area of law.
Paragon Law’s Head of Asylum, Associate Solicitor Deirdre Sheahan has recently appeared as part of a Notts TV program looking at the situation for asylum seekers from Syria.
To view the footage please click here
The Marriages and Civil Partnerships Regulations 2015 and associated Orders come into effect on 2 March 2015. Many non-UK nationals who are planning to marry in the UK will face tougher checks by the Home Office in an effort to crack down on sham marriages. The new rules will also apply to civil partnerships.
If one of the parties to a proposed marriage or civil partnership is a non-UK/non-EEA national with limited or no status then the proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office before the ceremony is allowed to take place. Those present in the UK with indefinite leave to remain, EU right of permanent residence or right of abode will not be referred but they must evidence their status adequately when giving notice.
Key points of the new scheme:
- All couples in the UK planning to marry must now give notice of their intention to do so 28 days before marrying(previously the notice period was 15 days);
- Non-UK/non-EEA nationals with limited or no status in the UK who give notice to marry or enter into a civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office;
- Those couples referred to the Home Office may be required to wait 70 daysbefore marrying if a decision is taken to investigate the relationship;
- Non-UK/non EEA nationals who wish to marry in the Anglican Church will now be required to give noticeat a register office also.
- EEA nationals (including British citizens) will need to provide specified evidenceof their citizenship to the Anglican Church prior to being married by the church.
- All non-UK/non-EEA nationals who are not exempt from immigration control will now need to give notice of their marriage at a designated register office (there will be 75 such designated offices nationwide) rather than at the office in the district in which they reside.
Orders are in place which extend the referral and investigation scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland and transitional arrangements are in place for couples who have given notice prior to 2 March 2015.
Couples who will be subject to referral may wish to seek immigration advice prior to giving notice of their intention to marry.
For further inormation please contact Nigel Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0115 9644 132.
Nottingham solicitor, Mark Lilley-Tams of Immigration law firm Paragon Law has been selected as an Independent Funding Adjudicator of the Legal Aid Agency.
The Government’s Legal Aid Agency makes decisions on whether a legal case merits legal aid funding. Mr Lilley-Tams’ responsibility as an Adjudicator will be to review decisions taken by The Agency on such matters and he will also review decisions of legal representatives who refuse to represent their client’s on legal aid.
Nationally there are currently 26 Adjudicators with specialist immigration and asylum knowledge.
Mr Lilley-Tams, who heads up Paragon Law’s personal immigration department said that “at a time when legal aid cuts have meant that fewer people will qualify for legal representation I see my role as an incredibly important public function which I hope will ensure that those who are entitled to legal aid funding will receive it and therefore ensuring that justice prevails”.