Thursday 24 July 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

Asylum and Refugees

First commencement order issued to bring Immigration Act provisions into force

A commencement order for many of the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 has been issued.

A small number of provisions - those relating to relating to banking and driving licenses - came into force on 14 July.

Several sections of the Act will come into force on 28 July, including:

  • Section 19: specifying the public interest requirements that Courts and Tribunals must have regard to in cases involving Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Section 17(2) and 17(5): a ban on grants of bail within 14 days of removal directions (the ban on repeat applications within 28 days has not yet been brought into force);
  • Section 17(3): providing for out-of-country appeals in conducive deportation cases;
  • Sections 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14: new biometric requirements;
  • Section 66: deprivation of citizenship. 

Commencement dates for the remaining provisions, including changes to the appeal rights to the First Tier Tribunal, have yet to be announced.

Poorly Managed Organisational Change Leads to Backlog of Asylum Casework

A poorly managed change programme for asylum casework had resulted in the rapid loss of experienced staff, which led to a backlog of over 13,000 cases by the end of 2013. These were the findings in the Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration’s inspection report on Home Office’s Cardiff Asylum Team.

Cardiff is one of ten non-detained asylum casework units across the UK. It receives approximately 8% of the UK’s annual non-detained asylum applications. In 2013, the UK received 23,507 such applications. The inspection of the Cardiff team aimed to gain an insight into the local challenges facing asylum teams, resulting from rising numbers of asylum claims and the impact of organisational change.

No Effective Home Office Strategy to Tackle Asylum Support Fraud

The Home Office was deciding applications for asylum support fairly, but a poorly managed organisational change had led to deterioration in service, and an increase in the number of recipients of asylum support. In his report on Asylum Support the Chief Inspector also found that there was no effective strategy in place to identify and tackle asylum support fraud.

People claiming asylum in the UK can also apply to the Home Office for asylum support to help with their essential living needs. Such support consists of financial assistance, accommodation or both, with a budget of £155 million in 2013/14. At the end of September 2013, 22,022 asylum seekers were receiving support under Section 95 and 4,709 failed asylum seekers and their dependents were being supported under Section 4. This inspection examined the Home Office’s efficiency and effectiveness in its delivery of its asylum support functions.

Powers to Remove ‘Cleary Unfounded’ Asylum Claimants Quickly not being Fully Utilised

Removals of applicants whose asylum claims were certified as ‘clearly unfounded’ were happening quicker than others. However, the Home Office was not using these powers to their full extent. These were the key findings in the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on the Non-Suspensive Appeals process for ‘clearly unfounded’ asylum and Human Rights claims.

Since 2003, the Home Office has had the power to certify asylum and human rights claims that are without substance as ‘clearly unfounded’. The objective was to deter people making unfounded asylum and / or Human Rights claims by withdrawing the right to appeal whilst they remained in the UK. This is referred to as a Non-Suspensive Appeal (NSA) because an appeal against refusal can only be brought after the person has left the UK.

Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children

The Department for Education has published statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children

Feedback on the consultation can be viewed here


East Midlands Councils Report on The Impact of International Migration in the East Midlands

East Midlands Councils has published a report on the Impact of International Migration in the East Midlands. The report ‘shines a light’ on the patterns of international migration in the East Midlands, its effects and how decision-makers should respond. The report finds that international migration on the East Midlands has generally been positive, particularly from an economic perspective however, the scale of population change varies considerably and has resulted in particular challenges for some communities. The report identifies four key areas and makes 12 recommendations.

Links to the press release, full and summary reports is below:

Further information is available from Sarah Short

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 we 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 right to work checks have been simplified by:

  • Reducing the range of acceptable documents that employers may have to check;
  • Reducing the frequency of follow-up document checks for most employees with limited permission to live and work in the UK;
  • Extending  the grace period for right to work checks for employees acquired as a result of a Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) to 60 days; and
  • Simplifying our guidance and continuing to improve our support to employers.

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.

Simplified guidance can be found here and further changes will be made in line with the Immigration Act 2014 later in the summer.

Court of Appeal rules against challenge to lawfulness of family immigration rules

The Home Office welcomes a Court of Appeal judgment, upholding the lawfulness of the income threshold under the new family migration rules.

The minimum income threshold for British citizens to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner or child to come and live in the UK was introduced in July 2012. It aims to ensure that family migrants do not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support and are able to integrate effectively.

The minimum income threshold was set, following advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee, at £18,600 for sponsoring a spouse or partner, rising to £22,400 for also sponsoring a child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.

Family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has comprehensively upheld the lawfulness of this important policy.

We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution, but family life must not be established in the UK at the taxpayer’s expense and family migrants must be able to integrate.

The minimum income threshold to sponsor family migrants is delivering these objectives and this judgment recognises the important public interest it serves.

Today’s judgement overturns an earlier High Court judgment from July 2013, which was supportive of the approach but found that the impact of the minimum income threshold on family life could be disproportionate.

Applications on hold will now receive a decision

The judgment will mean that, from the 28 July, the 4,000 individuals whose applications are currently on hold, pending this judgment, will now receive a decision. These are cases which met all the requirements apart from the minimum income threshold and now stand to be refused.

The full Court decision is set out in the attached file.   

Documents: Appeal Court Judgment in MM v SSHD

Department of Health publishes plans to charge overseas patients

The Department of Health (DH) has published its plans to recover costs for NHS treatment of visitors and migrants.

The Visitor & Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme: Implementation plan 2014-16 sets out two approaches towards recovering the cost of treatment.

The first of these is improving the ability of the NHS to recover the costs of healthcare provided to European Economic Area (EEA) patients (non-resident in the UK) from their home member state.  This will be achieved through making greater use of European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) system as well as the S1 and S2 agreements

More controversially, the second involves a statutory requirement for NHS provider trusts to charge (as per the Charging Regulations) patients from non-EEA countries directly. The DH claims that "the vast majority of these patients will be visitors from non-EEA countries with whom the UK does not hold reciprocal agreements."

The plan discusses the extension of the obligation to charge for NHS care given by other primary healthcare providers.  It explains that "the current charging rules will be extended to cover non-NHS providers of NHS care and the introduction of charging for primary medical services and other primary care services such as pharmacy, optics and dentistry".

GP and nurse consultations are not covered in the plans for direct charges, although a system for levying an NHS charge on non-EEA migrants under the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 is expected at some point soon.

The new approach to charging comes at a time when the government has made changes to the definition of 'ordinary resident' status for the purpose of NHS healthcare to exclude all people who have not been granted 'indefinite leave to remain'. This will mean that a large number of groups of people currently deemed 'ordinarily resident' by virtue of legal residence for a period greater than six months will lose this status and fall within the system for imposing an annual NHS levy.

Healthcare charities and organisations representing doctors and other service providers are continuing to register concern about healthcare delivery to communities which require the checking of immigration and residence status.  Access to records has been given in the case of more than 6,900 people since 2010.  

In response to this news, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, is reported as saying:

"There is the very real danger that some patients may put off seeking medical help for fear of their details being leaked. Furthermore, children may suffer if parents are reluctant to take them for treatment when they are ill. The health and welfare of patients must always be the priority and we must not introduce policies which could undermine the core principles of our health service."

Divisional Court rules that legal aid residence test is "Unauthorised, discriminatory and impossible to justify’"

Three Divisional Court judges have today ruled that the government's attempt to introduce a residence test for people requiring assistance from the civil legal aid scheme is 'unlawful'.

According to a statement from Bindman & Co, solicitors acting for complainants in the matter, the test would have had the effect of withholding legal aid from "recent, lawful migrants and irregular migrants including children born here many years ago. British nationals born and living abroad would fail the test, as would those unable to prove past residence including women fleeing domestic violence, pre-school age children and the homeless."

Giving the Court’s lead judgment, Lord Justice Moses said:

“…the Lord Chancellor now asserts a power to introduce secondary legislation which excludes, from those adjudged to have the highest priority need, those whose need is just as great, but whose connection with the United Kingdom is weaker.

… the instrument is ultra vires and unlawful. I conclude that LASPO [Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012]does not permit such a criterion to be introduced by secondary legislation. It extends the scope and purpose of the statute and is, accordingly, outwith the power conferred ....”

The judgment comes at a time when the introduction of the measure has been condemned by 33 organisations working on civil liberties and migrants' rights issues.

John Halford, a lawyer acting in the case said in response to the judgement:

"Using powers that were never his to exercise, the Lord Chancellor has attempted to refashion the legal aid scheme into an instrument of discrimination so that many of the cases Parliament itself identified as most worthy of support could never be taken. The Court’s judgment on that attempt is emphatic: it is simply unacceptable in a country where all are equal in the eyes of the law. Legal aid is, and must remain, the means to safeguard equality in our Courts, regardless of people’s origins, nationality or place of residence.” 

For further background on the case and a link to the Divisional Court judgment, visit the website of Bindman & Co HERE

Is what we hear about migration really true?

Questioning eight stereotypes

Immigration has polarised European politics for decades. There have been defenders and opponents of migration into Europe, and it has often been the matter of acrimonious debate. In recent years, however, the dispute between the two groups often seems to have largely vanished.  If the opinion that migration is a threat rather than an asset prevails, there is a risk that European States will forego the benefits of immigration. In doing so, it will undermine Europe’s recovery from the crisis and, ultimately, its position of importance in the world. However, if the consensus shifts and European societies come to see migration as a dynamic and positive force, then migration and migrants can and will help these societies better prepare for future challenges. In order to ground the debate in current evidence, and to counteract populist stereotypes, the European Migration Policy Centre’s experts re-think eight migration stereotypes in the light of European Migration Policy Centre’s research and broader academic scholarship.


Migration Messaging Campaign Workshop – Corby

9th August - 10:00 - 17:00. The Old TA Building Elizabeth Street Corby NN17 1PN

Organised by the TUC and Migrant Voice  

Be part of the campaign to promote progressive messages on migration in Corby. Build up skills with experienced journalists from Migrant Voice, trade unionists and activists and find out how you can be part of the campaign in your local area. Booking is essential. To find out more please contact Tanya Warlock 0207 467 1307