UNITED KINGDOM: New Immigration Bill
On October 10, 2013, the Home Office published a bill to continue its reforms to the immigration system. Subject to its parliamentary progress, the bill is expected to receive royal assent in spring 2014. The main provisions cover:
- Private landlords—Landlords will be required to check the immigration status of their tenants, to prevent those with no right to live in the UK from accessing private rented accommodation. This will also apply to those who sublet or take in lodgers. The government will publish a draft code of practice for the operation of the civil penalty regime, which will include guidance for landlords and draft regulations setting out the status documents that landlords must check. Subject to parliamentary approval, the intention is that the scheme will be implemented beginning in October 2014. It will not apply to existing tenancies; landlords will only have to conduct checks on new tenants.
- National Health Service charges—Fees are being introduced to ensure that non-European Economic Area nationals contribute toward the National Health Service care that will be available to them during their stay in the UK. This will be a health surcharge payable as a precondition of entry clearance or limited leave to remain for those migrants residing in the UK for more than six months. It will be payable at the same time as the fee for an entry clearance application or a fee for a leave to remain application. Exemptions will apply to those seeking asylum or humanitarian protection, among others (it is not yet known who will fall within the "among others" group). The government will produce secondary legislation to set out which groups will be required to pay the surcharge, to set the level of the surcharge, and to provide further information on how it will operate.
- Driving licenses—New powers to check driving license applicants' immigration status before issuing a license, and revoking licenses where immigrants are found to have overstayed in the UK.
- Bank accounts—Banks and building societies will be required to check identifying data against a database of known immigration offenders before opening new client bank accounts.
- Sham marriages—New provisions will clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership.
- Restrictions on appeal rights—The number of decisions that can be appealed will be cut from 17 to four, preserving appeals for those asserting fundamental rights.
- Extending the number of non-suspensive appeals—Where there is no risk of serious irreversible harm, foreign criminals will be deported first and have their appeals heard later.
- Article 8 provisions—New provisions will ensure that the courts consider Parliament's view of what the public interest requires when considering Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in immigration cases.
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