The immigration bill 2015 will develop the law implemented in the Immigration Act 2014. Of course, the current migrant crisis will be at the forefront of the minds of those introducing these changes.
The changes to immigration law have been significant over recent years, and there is no sign that this will steady anytime soon. The Bill has still to undergo various stages and could receive amendments before obtaining Royal Assent and becoming law. However, the below are a selection of proposed changes to consider.
Illegal Tenant Offence for Tenant and Landlord
Under the Immigration Act 2014 it is already an offence for a landlord to rent property to an individual who does not have valid leave to remain. This offence is punishable with a considerable fine. The proposals would make it a criminal offence for landlords to have a tenant who does not hold valid leave to remain in the UK, and in addition, they will be expected to evict existing tenants whose leave expires. Otherwise, the landlord will face a large fine, or a prison sentence of up to 5 years. Landlords will be able to access the Home Office checking service to confirm whether a prospective tenant has valid leave to remain.
Illegal Working Offence for Employee and Employer
There is a proposed illegal working offence. An individual working illegally against the terms of their visa could result in a prison sentence of up to 6 months (with an unlimited fine in England and Wales). Employers could also endure a prison sentence for employing individuals who do not have leave to remain. Likewise, the employer’s business could be closed down.
Illegal Driving Offence
If your visa expires, or you find yourself without valid leave to remain in the UK, you could be arrested simply for driving, even if you have a valid driving licence. It would become a criminal offence to drive in the UK without valid leave to remain. The consequence could be imprisonment for up to 6 months (and be subject to an unlimited fine in England and Wales). If convicted, your car would be confiscated and permanently removed from your possession. Immigration Enforcement Officers would have authority to carry out searches and seize your driving licence if you have no leave to remain.
Banks and Building Society Checks
Banks and building societies will be required to check your immigration status as a current account holder at set intervals. The banks will be expected to make a payment to do this and it is likely this will be passed to account holders. The bank will be expected to inform the Home Office of their findings. In the meantime, the bank will have the power to close or freeze the account on this basis.
There would be extensive changes to human rights appeals. Effectively, there would be no in country right of appeal. Anyone who wishes to appeal against the decision of the Home Office would have to leave the UK to do so.
This is a brief outline of the proposed changes and is not exhaustive. The full impact of the proposed changes will not be known until they come into force this autumn.