As you may have seen from our recent blogs on the subject, the Immigration Act 2014 has been approved by Parliament, and while its provisions are not yet in force, it is clearly making an impact in the UK already.
The Act has introduced limits for those accessing health care from the National Health Service and for those applying for a UK driver's licence. The Act even tells us who is allowed to hold a driver's licence and whose licence can be revoked.
The new changes will be felt by immigrants to the UK; both those with limited leave to enter or remain, and those with no valid leave.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions from individuals whom fall into the above categories.
Can I access the NHS free of charge as a holder of limited leave to remain/enter?
Effectively, the answer is no.
Sections 38 and 39 of the Act allow for the Home Office to impose a charge for health services on anyone who applies for "immigration permission".
This means that anyone with limited leave to remain or enter in the UK, or leave to enter under entry clearance provisions, will now be subject to a financial charge if they wish to access the NHS.
In the event that one does not pay this charge, one's application for leave to enter/remain etc. can be refused by the Home Office.
The amount of this charge is not yet specified by the Act. However, in considering what amount to charge an individual, the Home Office must have "regard to the range of health services that are likely to be available free of charge".
Under the Act, the Home Office also has the discretion to provide for an exemption, reduction or waiver of these financial charges.
Can I apply for/hold a UK driver's licence if I do not have valid leave to remain/enter?
Again, the Act says no.
Section 46 of the Act now inserts aresidence requirementinto the relevant Road Traffic provisions, with the consequence being, that one must now be "lawfully resident" in the UK in order to obtain a driving licence from the DVLA.
To be "lawfully resident", one must have valid leave to enter/remain in the UK.
Section 46 also states that one must be normally resident in the UK or have been attending a course of study in the UK during the period of six months, ending on that date (i.e. the date you made your application for a licence).
For those applying for a provisional driver's licence, the requirements are slightly different.
When applying for a provisional licence, one must again be lawfully resident in Great Britain and must satisfy the Home Office that one will remain lawfully resident for not less than 185 days (after the date of the application).
A particularly stark provision of the Act is where the Home Office can now revoke an individual's driver's licence where itappearsto them that the holder of that licence is not lawfully resident in the UK.
In this event, the Home Office will be able to serve a notice in writing: revoking the holder's licence; requiring the holder to surrender the licence to the Home Office; and imposing a duty on that holder to comply with this requirement.
Again, for these purposes, "not lawfully resident" means someone who has no valid leave to remain/enter in the UK and whom requires it.
The criteria for assessing how oneappearsnot to be lawfully resident in the UK is not specified by the Act.
If you wish to appeal the revocation of your licence to the court, the Home Office has also placed restrictions on what consideration the court/Judge can give to:
(i) whether you should be, or should have been granted leave to remain; or
(ii) whether, after serving the revocation notice, you have been granted leave to remain.
The question of whether you may hold a driver's licence is not a retrospective one and the revocation notice cannot be nullified by the individual subsequently obtaining leave to remain in the UK.
Clearly, if an individual holds a driver's licence in the UK and has no valid leave to remain, the position is that the Home Office can now revoke their licence.
The Act not only tells us therefore whom can apply for a driver's licence, but also whom is permitted to currently hold one.
If any of the issues above are affecting you and you would like advice, or if you have any other queries, then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Immigration Team.