Jacqueline Moore, Deputy Head of Immigration Law and head of our Glasgow Immigration Team takes a look at the key issues likely to impact on immigration law this year.
A new government?
Undoubtedly, the single most significant event this year for all migrants and those assisting them will be the result of the General Election. Although now only months away, it's still anyone's guess what the result will be, but for those who favour a progressive and fair immigration system, the hope will be for a change in government and a change in Home Secretary.
Theresa May, the current Home Secretary and the longest serving Home Secretary since the 1950s, has taken a particularly harsh stand on immigration and thousands of families have been forced to live apart due to changes in the Family Migration laws introduced by her.
At the end of last year she outlined her plans to make it a conservative manifesto commitment to force students outside the EU to leave the UK and apply for a new visa. It appears therefore that Mrs May has no plans to thaw her attitude to immigration and that continuing to make the climate hostile for migrants and reduce the net migration figures will remain the key theme if the Conservatives are once again in Government.
Further implementation of the Immigration Act 2014
Last year saw the 2014 Act receive royal assent in May; an Act which contains draconian provisions designed to significantly impact on almost every aspect of a migrant's civil life in the UK. A large majority of the Act's provisions have already been introduced, such as changes to bail; codification of how judges are to consider Article 8 issues in appeals; introduction of the administrative review procedure where it concerns student applications (as from 20 October 2014); and a pilot for landlord checks introduced in the South of England.
It is expected that 2015 will see the roll-out of the administrative review procedure to all other types of applications. It is essential that applicants are aware of these implementation dates as these will impact on whether an in country right of appeal will be given.
As well as the administrative review roll-out, it is also expected there will be a roll-out of the new NHS levy and phasing in of the landlord checks.
Developments in Case-law (some may bring good news)
The pace of new legislation in this area of law is fast and furious. As the courts struggle to keep up with the unending changes to both statute and secondary law such as Statutory Instruments and Home Office Guidance, they must also interpret each case in the light of relevant treaties of European Law and international conventions such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
These international conventions which have also been incorporated into UK law often provide a beacon of light in immigration cases, particularly those involving children. In an excellent new case (JO and Others (section 55 duty) Nigeria  UKUT 00517 (IAC)) concerning the Child's Best Interests, the Tribunal President referred to "…the onward march of jurisprudence involving the progressive development of the best interests of the child principle under Article 8…" and then proceeded to take the Home Office decision apart for its cursory approach to the affected children's live in the UK.
For all those affected by decisions taken both at Home Office and Court level let's hope that 2015 is a year which continues to signal more progressive developments through case-law
It is now more than ever vital to ensure that when making any application to the Home Office that you employ the assistance of specialist immigration advisors who are fully expert in ensuring that all arguments are deployed on your behalf to maximise the chance of a positive decision in your case, and who have the specialist knowledge to rely on the relevant European law as well as the domestic Immigration law to help you win your case.
If you require further assistance, then please get in contact with Jacqueline or any other member of the firm's Immigration Team who will be happy to assist.