2014 was a year of significant changes for UK immigration law. The year saw the implementation of the Immigration Act 2014 with wide ranging changes to removals, and appeals. However we only saw a mere six Statements of Changes in the Immigration Rules, (a welcome reduction from the eleven we had in 2013).
There is no doubt that 2015 will see more changes. Immigration is a hot political topic and will continue to be so in the lead up to the general election. The current Government's rhetoric is to be tough on immigration whilst at the same time trying to attract the brightest and best to the UK. One would hope that with time the Government would start to educate the general public in the benefits of migration rather than trying to meet unachievable targets of reducing net migration.
So what are our predictions for the year ahead?
Investors: The Home Office is scrutinising the Tier 1 (Investor) category particularly the types of permitted investments. In November 2014, we saw an increase of the financial threshold from £1 million to £2 million. What they are now going to be looking at is the types of investment and whether these should be changed to bring a greater economic benefit to the UK. One recommendation from the MAC report was that Government Bonds do not produce a benefit to the UK - so it may be that we see this form of investment being removed.
Students: In the first week of 2015 we have seen a significant shift in the Home Office position on students. Theresa May announced in December 2014 that students who completed a degree in the UK and were seeking to switch into Tier 2 sponsored employment, would have to leave the UK to make an application rather than being able to switch from within the UK. As a result of wide condemnation of this suggestion, George Osborne intervened and this has now been scrapped. However, it remains clear that students will also be under significant scrutiny in 2015 and we will probably see further restrictions.
The new restriction on rights of appeal for Tier 4 (Students) was bought in to force in November 2014. It is likely that in 2015 we will see this new appeal regime being extended to all immigration categories, which would mean that migrants would only be able to appeal a decision on grounds that they have made a Human Rights claim or a claim under the Refugee Convention.
Removals/deportations of foreign criminals and illegal entrants will also be on the political agenda following the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine's damning reports of late last year.
We at Gherson Solicitors try to stay on top of the continuous changes in UK immigration law and will continue to update this website as information becomes available.