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Immigration Rules

Volume 979: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will lay before the House new immigration rules; and if he will make a statement.

I have today laid before Parliament, in accordance with section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971, a statement of changes in the Immigration Rules. The new rules will come into force on 1 March and will remain in force unless disapproved by either House of Parliament within 40 days or until replaced by further changes. They will apply to all decisions taken on or after that date, except as provided under the transitional provisions in paragraphs 157–162. Under these all applications made before 14th November 1979—when the Government published their proposals for revision of the rules—will be decided under the present rules. Also, further applications to remain in the same capacity by those already given leave to enter or remain in certain categories will be decided under the present rules.The rules follow broadly the draft rules contained in the White Paper we published on 14th November (Cmnd. 7750), which has been debated and approved in this House. In the light of what was said in the debates in this House and in another place I have made several changes. The most significant are as follows.As already mentioned, the new rules contain transitional provisions. These give effect to our undertaking in paragraph 13 of Part 1 of the White Paper. They ensure in particular that any appeal against refusal of an application covered by that paragraph will be determined on the basis of the old rules.As I announced in the debate on 4th December, there are two changes in our proposals relating to husbands and fiances. It remains the case that a husband or fiance will be ineligible to enter or remain if the marriage has been contracted primarily in order to obtain his admission to the United Kingdom or if one of the parties has no intention of living permanently with the other or if the parties to the marriage have not met. But where there is no reason to believe this, an entry clearance will—not "may"—be issued to the husband or fiance provided that the woman is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who was born here herself or one of whose parents was born here. The latter addition brings within the rules those cases which we had first proposed should be dealt with by administrative discretion. There remains scope for discretion where a woman's connection with this country is very substantial (for example, by descent from people in Crown Service overseas) but she does not meet the formal requirements.We undertook in the debate to reconsider the changes proposed in the qualifications for entry of elderly parents and grandparents. There seems to us to be force in the argument that there would be great difficulty in some circumstances in showing that an applicant was both being supported by children in the United Kingdom and enjoying a standard of living below that of his own country. I have therefore removed the latter requirement. It will still, however, apply, as now, to more distant relatives, and to parents and grandparents under the age of 65, except widowed mothers.It has also been argued that our proposals to prohibit from working the wives and children of students and of people allowed to stay in approved employment could severely affect the prospects of students and unnecessarily deter people whose scarce qualifications or skills make their presence here desirable. We accept this argument and the rules will accordingly not be changed on this point.Our proposals for changes in the provisions relating to au pair girls and working holidaymakers set an upper age limit of 25. We have decided to relax this slightly to take account of those who are engaged in studies from their early to mid-twenties. The age limit will now be 27.Paragraph 91 of the new rules governs applications to remain for employment from those admitted as visitors or students or for some other temporary purpose. We have, however, ensured that it does not debar the employment on completion of their training of nurses and midwives at hospitals in this country, provided that the training was not financed by an international scholarship agency or by their home Government.The drafting of the provisions about refugees has been improved.Finally, we undertook to look again at the proposed condition of stay of writers and artists, which would have prohibited them from taking employment or engaging in any business or profession. We have decided to substitute a condition which would allow them to engage, with consent, in business. Consent would be given for business which is part and parcel of an artist's or writer's profession, such as the holding of an exhibition.