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Immigration Act Commencement and Changes in Immigration Rules

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

Today is another significant milestone in bringing the reforms in the Immigration Act 2014 into force. We are finishing the task of sweeping away the remains of the excessive number of rights of appeal and implementing the new scheme to stop sham marriages being used to circumvent immigration controls.

On 24 November I announced our plans to implement from 2 March 2015 the main provisions in the Act that tackle sham marriage and civil partnership. Today’s commencement order, together with the secondary legislation we have already laid before Parliament, will bring the new scheme into force from that date. The Act will give us a much stronger platform for effective, systematic action to disrupt and deter sham marriages and civil partnerships and prevent them gaining an immigration advantage.

Last October we started the phased implementation of the new immigration appeals system. The old system was a costly and time-consuming way to correct simple case work errors which could be resolved by a request to the Home Office to review the decision. Instead of appeals, the new system provides a system of administrative review through which case work errors will be corrected within 28 days. By 6 April 2015 the new appeals system will be fully in place.

Also on 6 April 2015 new provisions will come into force that enable children of unmarried British fathers born before 2006 to register as British citizens, correcting a historical anomaly in our nationality law.

The Immigration Act continues to prove itself as a radical new tool to tackle immigration abuse. Over 300 foreign criminals have now been deported who before this legislation existed would have had rights of appeal delaying their removal. Over 5,000 driving licences have been revoked from migrants with no right to be in the United Kingdom. Banks are now checking the immigration status of prospective customers and landlord checks are being phased in, starting in the west midlands, since last December.

I am also making other changes to the immigration rules.

I am laying a new set of immigration rules for visitors. The new visitor rules will reduce the number of visitor routes from 15 to four, removing duplication and complexity in the system, and will make the immigration rules for visitors clearer and more accessible for applicants and decision-makers.

One of the main delays in removing and deporting persons with no right to be in the United Kingdom is the time taken to obtain a travel document from the relevant consular authorities. To address that I am making changes to require an original, valid passport, travel document or national identity card as a requirement in most cases for a valid application for leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain from a person in the UK without refugee status or humanitarian protection.

To ensure our processes are robust I am imposing a requirement on migrants, if requested to do so, to attend an interview or provide documentation, to show they still meet the requirements of the rules. I am also taking a power to enable us to require an applicant for entry clearance to provide a criminal record certificate from the country in which they have been living for the past 10 years. We plan to roll out this requirement on a phased basis.

I am also making a number of changes to the points-based system, including implementing changes to the shortage occupation list recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee and updating salary thresholds for tier 2 workers.

The rules include a number of other policy changes which are described in more detail in the explanatory memorandum published with the statement of changes.