The Hackney Migrant Centre hosted a public meeting this week on the impact of the Immigration Act and other immigration policy changes such as cuts to legal aid and access to services. Speakers included Roopa Tanna, Immigration Solicitor at Islington Law Centre, Anita Hurrell, Policy Advisor at Coram Children’s Legal Centre and Chrisann Jarrett and Emmanuel Opoku from the Let Us Learn Campaign and Just for Kids Law.
Here are the top 3 immigration effects discussed in the public meeting that may have an impact on you:
- Your immigration status is key to unlocking access to services
Temporary visa status affects your rights and entitlements to benefits in the UK. Your limited status can be challenge. This is particularly resonant with changes in healthcare. You could be denied leave to remain if in debt with the NHS. Under the new health surcharge, you could pay over £6000 if on a 10 year route to settlement with dependents.
Immigration status will now impact certain aspects of your day to day life: with your passport being checked more often. For example, civil penalties could be given to employers if they do not carry out relevant checks. In addition landlords have begun checks of legal status in a pilot scheme being launched in the Midlands and the DVLA can check your immigration status and can turn you in if overstayed and revoke your license.
- Your route to settlement may now be even longer
If you are already in the UK and applying for Leave to Remain, you may find you have a longer route to settlement since the July 2012 overhaul . For example if you are a student and get married to British citizen it used to be 2 year route to settlement but now it is 5 years. If you are an overstayer married to a British citizen it used to be 6 year route to settlement but now it is 10 years.
In addition, a proposal to fix a minimum annual salary for migrants having stayed 6 years in the UK could make it difficult for you to stay. The proposal of a new immigration policy for 2016 states that migrants from outside the EU will have to earn £35,000 to settle in the UK after residing more than six years in the country. Under the rule, if you do not comply, you will be asked to leave the country.
- New immigration law may seem like it may be targeting ‘others’ but ends up targeting our communities
Changes in the immigration process (no funding of legal aid anymore, the number of changes to Home Office policy and in statutory services) in the last two years has meant a demand has risen for immigration services and support. The government do explain that migrants can enforce their right to stay but in many cases, especially amongst families, fees for citizenship is something that not all can afford.
With regards to healthcare, whilst any migrant can access primary care and access to a GP, there are secondary health care charges (when needing hospital care) for any migrant with Limited Leave to Remain in the UK, or no immigration permission. Unless you fall under a certain exemption you will be charged but often can’t prove your position to be in the UK and there is a fear that debt to the NHS amongst many migrants in the community could affect their status.
In Higher Education too, if you have Limited Leave to Remain or are a dependent under Right to Family Life, as Chrisann Jarrett and Emmanuel Opoku are, you will get classed as an international student and have to pay international fees, losing access to being classed as a home student and gaining access to a student loan. Chrisann came to UK when she was 8. As she said “as an 8 year old, you don’t ask your parents ‘am I British?!’”. Many of those who want to join her Let us Learn Campaign to raise awareness and campaign for access to education are scared to speak out because they fear it will affect their status.
Hackney Migrant Centre are hoping to launch a new campaign about the immigration changes affecting migrants. If you are interested in getting involved or learning more, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org