Wednesday 20 August 2014

East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership Briefing

The East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership Briefing brings together different sources of information relating to Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants.

  • Asylum and Refugees
  • Migration
  • Events
  • Funding

Asylum and Refugees

UK Visas & Immigration Bulletin Issue 2

The second edition of UK Visas & Immigration's quarterly newsletter which aims to keep you updated on key developments. The last quarter has been a very busy period for UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI). Just this week, Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire, was in Beijing to announce further improvements  to the UK's visa service in China to key tourism and business partners. The Minister's announcements built on those made by the Home Secretary in June, at an event hosted by the  UK China Visa Alliance to launch a report  on our visa service in China. I was pleased that the report acknowledged recent improvements made to our services; whilst setting out some further recommendations. The service improvements announced by the Home Secretary, and Immigration Minister are now being implemented, and will streamline processes, making it easier for Chinese nationals to complete their UK and Schengen applications at the same time. A new British Irish Visa Scheme will also be launched this year, which will enable Chinese and Indian visitors to travel to the UK from Ireland using their Irish visa.

In June we announced the suspension of ETS as a provider of approved Secure English Language testing. Following further investigations we have suspended the sponsor licenses of 63 private colleges. We will continue taking action and making changes to the system in order to crack down on organised criminal groups and economic migrants exploiting the system. In response we have taken action to prevent these institutions from sponsoring new students whilst further investigations are carried out.  I know that you support action to protect the strong reputation of our education sector.

This month the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, published a number of reports relating to our asylum operations. These acknowledged our commitment to safeguarding the most vulnerable asylum claimants, UKVI's awareness of the risks of getting decisions wrong, and our good quality decision making on claims for asylum support.  There are, of course, still improvements to be made and we are working hard to clear all outstanding decisions this year and return to service standards. 

We are also focusing on ensuring an appropriate anti-fraud and compliance function is in place across asylum support, and that we improve training and set up a dedicated team to ensure we are effectively using our certification powers.

A report by the National Audit Office, published last week, on reforming the UK border and immigration system found the changes made by creating UKVI, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force are already delivering improvements, including cutting immigration application times by 25% and embedding a culture that is more focused on improving performance in the future.  I am also pleased that it recognised that UKVI's new service standards have given customers greater transparency regarding the time taken to complete different types of visa applications, and that we have taken action to prioritise clearing backlogs.

UKVI continues to work tirelessly to improve our service to customers,  with our in-country service delivery in temporary and permanent migration meeting our published service standards.  We are also working with our commercial providers overseas, including Teleperformance, to ensure our customers are receiving the best possible service available.

Finally,  you may recall in December we asked our partners to take part in a short survey to help us better understand what we are doing well, where we can improve and if we were meeting our aim of being customer focused, high performing and  consistently competent.  It is important that we regularly review our progress and would ask that you take time to answer a few short questions online at:

http://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/UKVIpartnersurveyJuly2104

I welcome any further comments you might have on what you would like to see in this update and any feedback on how you would like us to keep you informed. Please direct any comments to UKVIengagement@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

For specific business enquiries please contact your regular UKVI representative.

Sarah Rapson, Director General, UK Visas and Immigration

Rules on Right to Work for Tier 4 visa holders

The Home Office has recently made a number of changes to legislation in relation to the civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal working.  This includes changes to regulations in May to, on the one hand, make it easier for employers to conduct right to work checks on their employees, and on the other, take  a more robust response to businesses that employ illegal workers by doubling the maximum penalty to £20,000. In addition, as part of the Immigration Act, we are making it easier to enforce the payment of penalty debts in the civil courts.

Separately, we are clarifying the existing immigration rules in relation to international students' right to work. Our aim is to ensure that employers and students feel confident that they are complying with the rules. Not all students are allowed to work under the terms of their visas. The rules for those who are permitted to work depend on the course they are studying, the status of the education institution and on the student actually following their course of study.

Students who are permitted to work and are studying are able to work during vacation times. Students who have completed their course are able to continue working during the short period that they are permitted to be in the UK after their course ends. In contrast, students who drop out of their courses need to be aware that once they are no longer studying a course they are not entitled to work, regardless of when their permission to be in the UK ends.

The full guidance for the rules around students working can be viewed here.  

Further guidance on right to work checks reflects the clarification on students' right to work

National Audit Office report - Reforming the UK border and immigration system

This report focuses on the progress the two new Home Office directorates, UK Visas and Immigration and Immigration Enforcement, have made in addressing the Committee of Public Accounts’ concerns and the Home Secretary’s reasons for abolishing the UK Border Agency. The two new directorates have had no significant performance falls during or after the split of the Agency. Improvements have been made in some areas, but not across the whole business. For executive summary and the full report, please follow the link below: Reforming the UK border and immigration system - National Audit Office (NAO)

The Migration Observatory briefing on asylum 

This briefing sets out key facts and figures, as well as information gaps, relating to the number of asylum seekers applying to stay in the UK, who these asylum seekers are, how many are rejected, what the overall impacts of asylum seekers are on UK migration statistics and what happens to asylum seekers after their applications have been processed.

Follow this link for further details: http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/migobs/Briefing%20-%20Migration%20to%20the%20UK%20-%20Asylum_0.pdf

Destitution-Our Story

Nottingham Arimathea Trust (NAT) is very proud to have been involved in the creation of a short film which documents destitution of asylum seekers in Nottingham. This film looks at what causes destitution amongst some immigrants, the problems they face, and what help is available to them.  You can follow the hyperlink below to view the film on Youtube and there are also DVD copies in the NAT office if you would like to share the film with other people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZiLblRAstI&feature=share

NAT would like the film to be circulated as widely as possible so that they can continue to raise awareness about the situation that many asylum seekers find themselves in if their original claim is not successful.  So please do share amongst your friends and colleagues.

In addition, NAT is currently running a Destitution Ambassadors Project https://gallery.mailchimp.com/c59b223ca7593924ebe005f12/files/7c7babcb-7908-4823-80bb-292f4f300ef4.docx through which volunteers from NAT are visiting local community and faith groups to run a showing of the film and deliver a presentation on destitution amongst asylum seekers.  All groups that we have visited so far have discovered a great deal about the asylum process that they were not aware of before and found the presentation extremely interesting and eye-opening.  If you know of a group who would be interested in learning more about destitution amongst asylum seekers and the work of Nottingham Arimathea Trust then please contact NAT and they can organise a visit from their volunteers.info@nottinghamarimathea.org.uk or 0115 9249920

NRPF Network July Bulletin

The NRPF Network has launched a new ‘news’ page on the NRPF Network website. The news page will be updated regularly, so please refer to it for current information about NRPF issues and service provision. The bi-monthly e-bulletin will link to news items that have been added over the last two months to make sure that you don’t miss anything. The NRPF Network hope you like the new format; do contact them if you have any feedback as they would be grateful to receive this.

This month’s bulletin contains information about an important judgment regarding subsistence rates provided under section 17 Children Act; an update about local authority concerns regarding leave to remain granted with NRPF, as well as an immigration case that considers the lawfulness of Home Office policy in relation to this. 22 local authorities are now signed up to NRPF Connect, and this is an excellent time to join, as the focus on local authority spend on NRPF cases increases with the commencement of the DCLG’s New Burdens Assessment.

To subscribe to the NRPF Network Bulletin click here.

Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to Resign

Statement from the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine CBE QPM:

“My Annual Report for 2013/14, which is published in December, will mark six years since I was appointed Chief Inspector and set up this Inspectorate. During that period I have agreed to two extensions to my original term of office at the request of the Home Secretary, and I feel now is the time to move on.

As such, I have informed the Home Secretary of my intention to resign as the Chief Inspector on 31st December 2014.

I am immensely proud of establishing this Inspectorate from scratch, and believe it has been a catalyst for significant change and improvement across the UK’s border and immigration functions. After publishing over 50 inspection reports and making close to 500 recommendations, the time is right for me to seek a new challenge.

I wish to place on record my sincere thanks to the various organisations and individuals I have worked with along the way, and an extra special thanks to my staff – both past and present – in helping me to deliver inspections reports of the highest quality.

By announcing my resignation early I want to give the Home Secretary enough time to appoint a successor and ensure a smooth transition of arrangements.

Leaving at the end of the year and before the next general election, rather than in July 2015 when my term is due to end, makes sense.”

Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to Resign | Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

 

Migration

The AIRE (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) Centre Roma Law Project

The AIRE Centre, the London-based specialised charity providing free legal advice on European human rights law and European Union law, launched their new Roma law project in March 2014 thanks to funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. The aim of the project is to share their expertise in European law (both European Union and Council of Europe) with Roma individuals and organisations through specialist free legal services, advice, advocacy, training and awareness-raising. Through free training for NGOs and service providers, information sessions and information sheets, they want to empower people raise awareness of rights that Roma migrants have, in particular, under EU free movement law. The Roma Project is coordinated by Anna Błuś with the support of Roma lawyer Denisa Psenickova. Anyone who works with the Roma community in the UK who feels that their organisation would benefit from free training or information sheets on aspects of European law, please contact Anna on e: ablus@airecentre.org. For more information about the project, please follow this link: http://www.airecentre.org/pages/roma-rights.html. They also provide free written legal advice - to find out if they can assist, please contact them on e: info@airecentre.org or t: 0207 8314276 Monday to Friday 10am-6pm.

Right to work checking facility

In May 2014, legislation was updated to strengthen and simplify the civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal working. This included changes to make it easier for employers to conduct right to work checks on their employees, as well as ensuring a more robust response to businesses that employ illegal worker/s.

To get tougher on employers of illegal workers the Home Office have doubled the maximum civil penalty for the employment of an illegal worker to £20,000. When employing students with a restricted right to work, the Home Office now also requires employers to obtain evidence of study and vacation times.

The new on-line right to work checking facility is now live. It is an interactive tool which will take an employer step-by-step through the process of checking documents to establish a right to work Check if someone can work in the UK - GOV.UK. Simplified guidance can be found here Civil penalty scheme for illegal working: code of practice - Publications - GOV.UK and further changes will be made in line with the Immigration Act 2014 later in the summer.

‘Istanbul Convention’ will provide an opportunity to end violence against migrant women

Migrant rights organisations active in the support of women have welcomed the coming into force today of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), Women against Violence Europe (WAVE), and the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) have issued a joint statement welcoming the new convention and describing it as a 'vital opportunity to end violence against migrant women..'

Referred to as ‘Istanbul Convention’, it is the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence. To date it has been signed by 23 Council of Europe member states and ratified by 13 (Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andorra, Denmark, France, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey).

The Convention sets out, and calls for the implementation of, legally binding standards to prevent violence against women, protect survivors and punish perpetrators. Requiring state parties to ensure availability of services such as hotlines, shelters, medical assistance, counselling, and legal aid, the Convention prohibits discrimination on the grounds of migration status (Article 4).

Lara Natale of the European Network of Migration Women explained the relevance of the convention to the position of migrant women. “Policies governing entry, employment and residence frequently disadvantage migrant women and increase their risk of abuse. To address this, Article 59 of the Convention requires state parties to provide an autonomous permit to victims whose status is dependent on a violent partner or spouse”.

In addition to ensuring that migrant women do not lose their status because of violence, it is also vital to ensure prevention, protection, and justice for undocumented migrant women. “Violence against women will only end in Europe when all women have access to justice,” affirmed Michele LeVoy of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, “To do this, authorities must ensure a firewall to completely delink access to justice, support services, and shelters from immigration enforcement.”

Now that the Convention is in force, the Group of experts on action against violence against women and domestic violence (GREVIO) will measure the extent to which state parties are adhering to it. In addition to reports received from national governments, these experts will rely on information from NGOs and national parliaments, and may also conduct field trips as part of their inquiry.

Migrants Rights Network also welcomes the convention but points out that UK, although adding its signature to the measure back in June 2012, still has to formally ratify it.  Without ratification it does not acquire the force of law in the British legal jurisdictions

To access the press statement issued by PICIM, WAVE and ENoMW, CLICK HERE.

To view a chart setting out the states that have signed and/or ratified the convention, CLICK HERE

Office of Children's Commissioner seeks evidence from those affected by family migration rules

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) is undertaking a new study to explore the impact on children and young people of the changes to the Family Migration Rules which came into force on 9 July 2012. The study will be in three parts:

Phase 1 will consist of a questionnaire (below) which seeks to explore the views and experiences of families who have been affected.

Phase 2 will analyse both policy and practice, and how they may both impact on children’s rights. It will also look at how the Rules impact the economy.

Phase 3 will consist of a qualitative study with children and families to explore the impact the Rules are having on them.

When the study is completed the OCC will publish a report with recommendations to which, by law, the Government must respond. The information that the OCC collects from families affected by the rules via the questionnaire will form part of the final report.  It will also inform the recommendations that the OCC will make to the Government within the report.

All families within which children and young people have been affected by the new family migration rules are strongly encouraged to respond by completing the questionnaire below, in order to help the OCC inquiry.

The questionnaire, and details of how to submit evidence, can be downloaded below. All completed questionnaires should be returned to the OCC by 9.00am on Monday 1 September 2014. 

If you have any questions or need assistance please contact: research.network@childrenscommissioner.gsi.gov.uk

OCC guidance on questionnaire submission

OCC questionnaire for families affected by rules

Supreme Court rules that offence of trafficking trumps 'illegal' immigration status in 'Hounga' case

An important judgment issued by the Supreme Court today has rejected the argument that an employer can evade guilt for the exploitation of a trafficked worker on the grounds that she was unlawfully present in the UK.

The case concerned a Nigerian national, Ms Hounga, now aged approximately 21 who had been brought to the country when she was 14.  

The child was set to work in the home of a Mrs Allen who employed her without payment of wages to look after her children in the home. During the course of the appeals heard in this matter it was agreed that Mrs Allen had inflicted serious physical abuse on Ms Hounga.  Further, she had told her that if she left the home, she would be imprisoned because her presence in the UK was illegal.

In July 2008 Mrs Allen threw Ms Hounga out of the home in which she had worked.  Ms Hounga then pursued an employment claim that she was the victim of discrimination which came from the fact that she had been treated less favourably as an employee than she would have been if she was of another nationality.

The complaint of unlawful discrimination was upheld by the Employment Tribunal and, on appeal by Mrs Allen, but the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Mrs Allen was instructed to pay £6,187 to Ms Hounga as compensation for the years of employment abuse.

Mrs Allen then appeal to the Court of Appeal and on that occasion the Court ruled that the fact of the illegality of the contract of employment, arising from the fact that Ms Hounga had no right to work in the UK and therefore was not entitlede to enter into a contract of employment was the critical element in the case.  It took the view that that to uphold a complaint of discrimination in these circumstances would be to condone the illegality.

Ms Hounga took this decision not to uphold her claim to Supreme Court.  In a judgement the Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal o the point of the claim for the statutory tort of discrimination, committed in the course of dismissal.

The Court also ruled that Miss Hounga’s claim in relation to alleged pre-dismissal harassment on grounds of race or ethnic origin should be remitted to the tribunal to determine whether the ground identified by the Court of Appeal for possible disapplication of the grievance procedure existed and, if so, whether the complaint was established. CLICK HERE to access the full judgment and press statement on this case.

Plans to encourage the recovery of migrant NHS healthcare costs

The Department of Health has announced plans to help the NHS to recover more of the costs of migrant and visitor healthcare.

Some patients from outside Europe using the NHS will be charged 150% of the cost of treatment under new incentives for the NHS to recover costs from visitors and migrants using the NHS.

Visitors and migrants can currently get free NHS care immediately or soon after arrival in the UK, leaving the NHS open to abuse.

But now government is asking the NHS to clamp down by identifying these patients more effectively so costs can be recovered from them.

This will make sure that by the middle of the next parliament, the NHS will recover up to £500 million a year from treating foreign visitors and migrants.

In June, it was revealed that the NHS will receive an extra 25% on the top of the cost of every procedure they perform for an EEA migrant or visitor with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Now details of the non-EEA incentive further strengthens the programme planned over next 2 financial years.

A non-EEA visitor will be charged for their care plus an extra 50 per cent. This means that for a £100 procedure, they could be billed up to £150.

For those who are temporary migrants from outside the EEA and are here for longer than six months, a new health surcharge will be applied when they submit an application for leave to enter or remain in the UK. This surcharge could generate up to £200 million per annum in the future.

Financial sanctions will also be put in place for trusts who fail to identify and bill chargeable patients.

Steps are being taken to help the NHS charge more effectively and consistently. A clear timetable has been issued and a new National Intensive Support Team will be on hand to assist.

A clearer registration process and IT system will help lessen the burden on busy staff. In summer, trials will start in some A&E departments to explore how details can be taken from patients with an EHIC when they register for care.

Options for recovering the costs of primary care services are also being explored. Eligibility to free NHS prescriptions, optical vouchers and subsidised NHS dental treatment will also be tightened.

The EEA incentive scheme will be introduced in autumn 2014. The non- EEA incentives will begin in spring 2015.

CReAM Centre for Reasearch and Analysis of Migration

The August CReAM newsletter is available here:

CReAM Newsletter - August 2014

Leicestershire County Council Community Cohesion e-bulletin

This week’s News Update is available on Leicestershire County Council’s website, by clicking on http://www.leics.gov.uk/index/your_council/equality_and_diversity/content_template-newpage-12.htm and then scrolling down to the ‘Community Cohesion news bulletin’ section. The most recent editions of the News Update will always be found on this page.

Events

High level conference on Roma inclusion on the ground - The ROMACT experience, 2-3 October

The European Commission - in cooperation with the Council of Europe - has convened a high level international conference in Brussels on 2 and 3 October 2014 to take stock of progress and lessons learned in integrating Roma at the local level with the support of the ROMACT programme. Participation is by invitation. For more information, please contact empl-romact@ec.europa.eu or see the website:

High level conference on Roma inclusion on the ground - The ROMACT experience - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission

Working together to ensure the protection and reception of unaccompanied children in Europe

Venue: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, 65 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1HT

Date: Friday 19th September 2014, 9.30 – 5.00. CPD points will be available

The conference will include expert panel sessions and workshops on the key themes addressed in the CONNECT project, which include action to promote co-operation between different actors in legal and judicial proceedings involving unaccompanied and trafficked migrant children, the development of  children’s courts, the particular needs of unaccompanied children with special needs because of disability or being victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied children who go missing from care and the need for

multi-agency participation when collecting information for the determination of and application by a child for asylum or other forms of international protection"

The programme will include:Identifying good practices in, and improving, the connections

between actors involved in reception, protection and integration of unaccompanied children in Europe.

Jacqueline Bhabha, Jeremiah Smith Jr Lecturer, Harvard Law School and author of Child Migration & Human Rights in a Global Age will give the Key Note Address.

Speakers include: Sir Mathew Thorpe • Rebecca O’Donnell (CONNECT Project) • Mikaela Hagan (Save the Children, Sweden) • Nadine Finch (Barrister at Garden Court Chambers and UK Consultant for the CONNECT project) • Naomi Angell (Consultant at Osbornes Solicitors LLP and outgoing chair of the Family Law Committee of the Law Society) • Pat Monro (Fee-paid Immigration Judge) • Judith Dennis

(Policy Manager, Refugee Council) • Adrian Matthews (Principle Policy Advisor (Asylum and Immigration), Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England) • Ravi Kohli (Professor of Child Welfare, University of Bedfordshire) • Chloe Setter (Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns (Child Trafficking), ECPAT UK) • Dragan Nastic (Senior Policy & Advocacy Advisor, UNICEF UK) • Ann Haigh (Chair of

NAGALRO) • Kamena Dorling (Policy and Programmes Manager, Coram Children’s Legal Centre) and Nick Crichton, Deputy Judge (Retired).

Please join us for a day of expert discussion focusing on the rights of unaccompanied migrant children and how different experts can increase co-operation and participation to better meet the obligations contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Entry is by invitation.

Please RSVP to Katrina.hamilton99@hotmail.com

Funding

Making use of European Structural and Investment Funds for Roma Inclusion: A Guide for Local Authorities

The guide should be seen in the context of the emerging European Union (EU) policy framework embodied in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), the current (2007‐2013) and future (2014‐2020) programming period for ESI Funds. It complements the EURoma guide Tackling Roma needs in the 2014‐2020 Structural Funds Programming Period. Guide to improve the planning process by shifting the focus from the national and regional planning processes of Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes to local planning for effective interventions with Roma by using ESI Funds.

For more information, please follow this link: http://coe-romact.org/articles/making-use-european-structural-and-investment-funds-roma-inclusion-guide-local-authorities Thanks to the East of England Newsflash