In 2016, the UK will is rolling out important major change in the immigration system that will affect workers, businesses, family life and study for migrants.
Here we have compiled a useful guide of our 5 major picks from the new law that will be put in place as well as what to look out for in immigration news being discussed by government in 2016
1. The Immigration Bill
The Immigration Bill has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords and will likely become law this year. It includes a range of policy changes, particularly targeting illegal workers and businesses.
Those found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail with wages being seized as ‘proceeds of crime’ and employers could face a maximum criminal penalty which has changed from 2 to 5 years. Additionally, with new laws allowing banks, police, DVLA and landlords to be given new powers to check immigration status, families could easily find various aspects of their daily life surveilled.
Employers under Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsors employing recent graduates and Non-EEA migrants will have to follow a new immigration skills charge (visa levy) to businesses who preferentially employ skilled migrants from abroad which is currently being assessed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The visa levy on businesses was created to further enforce the Labour Resident Market Test and the extent of the charge is not currently known.
Find out more about what the Immigration Bill is and how it will affect you with our guides.
2. Residence in the UK
Migrants with UK work visas will have to earn at least £35,000 or more to be able to apply to stay in the UK as permanent resident (apply for indefinite leave to remain) after April 6, 2016.
Read more about the changes to permanent residency for Tier 2 general holders.
3. Right to Rent
From the 1st of February 2016, the ‘right to rent’ scheme is being rolled out UK wide. Private landlords will be compelled by law to check the immigration status of all their tenants.
Landlords will need to take copies of all adult passports or residence permits. Failure to do so could result in them being fined up to £3000 per tenant, for each tenant who has no right to rent in the UK, including undocumented migrants.
Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has found that the scheme can be discriminatory towards ethnic minorities, including Asians.
Read how the Right to Rent law may affect you.
4. An Online Visa Application System
The government will invest more than £250 million to overhaul the passport and immigration system. This investment was made to enable migrants to apply and pay for their passport and visa applications entirely online.
This online visa system is aimed to improve information, convenience and flexibility. Though it is not currently known when it will be implemented, it may be news worth looking out for.
You can read more about what was discussed in immigration in the spending review on the Gov.UK website.
5. Increased Fees
The UK government are introducing and looking into a few new fee changes this coming year:
The government recently announced that fees for settlement, residence and nationality will increase by 25% in 2016–17 and visit, study and work visa fees will increase by around 2%. There will also be targeted increases to premium services, such as the priority visa service. The specific fee changes for 2016–17 will apply after further legislation is laid in Parliament by April this year.
You can read more on the new fees on the Gov.UK website.
The government have also indicated that they are looking to extend charges for Non-EU overseas visitors and migrants to access various departments of the NHS. They are looking to extend beyond the health surcharge to Accidents and Emergency (A&E), ambulance care as well as some general practitioner (GP) services such as blood tests, lung function tests, prescriptions, dental treatment and physiotherapy.
They seek relevant views on these proposals to further extend these charges. It closes on Sunday 6 March 2016 and can be accessed on the Gov.UK website.