Category Archives: Uncategorized

Brexit Could be Delayed if the ECJ Intervenes

Despite reassurances that negotiators have pushed the Brexit machine into motion once again,  experts warned today that the entire process could be delayed for up to two years if any aspect is referred to the European Court of Justice. This could effectively stop the clock on the Brexit two-year deadline.

According to Catherine Barnard, a professor of EU law at the University of Cambridge said: “The Brexit process could be delayed if the deal is referred to the ECJ, as it is an interpretation of Article 50 and Article 50 is part of European law. This could either be from someone who is dissatisfied by the deal, but they would need to bring the case to their national court, or the European Parliament could seek a judicial review action. The European Parliament has the right to appear before the ECJ.”

This news comes the same week that some MEPs have called for a review of the Prime Minister’s plans to make all EU citizens register with the government after Brexit. According to a cross-party group of MEPs, the government’s plans to register all EU citizens following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union would be illegal and unacceptable to the European parliament. With these statements in mind, it casts Barnard’s warnings in a more immediate light.

At the moment, the Brexit talks haven’t progressed past the first round of negotiations as the two sides cannot agree on some fundamental issues. Outstanding issues include the Irish border, citizens rights and the divorce bill. According to Barnard, “It would not take very much for the Brexit process to be referred to the ECJ. The whole issue is so complex there are going to be many areas that are contestable,” meaning that the 2019 deadline might not be set in stone as we once thought.

There is also the concern that any final deal could even be shelved if the ECJ decides to veto the final agreement. Both parties could be forced back to the negotiating table if the ECJ exercises its veto rights. This could happen if the ECJ questions if the deal is in the best interest of the people.

If you’re concerned about the impact of Brexit on your life, get in touch with the immigration team at IAS to discuss your needs.

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The NHS to start checking immigration status

A highly controversial NHS policy rolled out in the week beginning the 23rd October. Once again putting immigrants into the spotlight. The new policy will require Doctors to ask for proof of entitlement to free healthcare for some NHS services. Whether it’s a passport or a visa, anyone seeking non-emergency care will be required to prove they are entitled to free health service. Anyone without the right to the NHS will be asked to pay for their treatment up front.

The policy which was first piloted in February of this year was met with contempt and accusations of xenophobic profiling. There was even a recent march by campaign group ‘Patients Not Passports.’ The protest march saw NHS staff band together against a system that positions them as border guards.

The policy has brought into question issues of doctor confidentiality and what exact role the NHS will play in the coming years. Furthermore, critics of the scheme have pointed out that requiring a passport for medical treatment will be detrimental for victims of sex trafficking and human slavery, as the need for a passport will stop them from feeling comfortable to talk with their doctor. This cautious, climate of fear and unease will likely cover those with precarious immigration statuses and therefore some of the more vulnerable people in our society. It essentially incentivises the exclusion of specific individuals from care – it is inevitable that such a push will have serious negative ramifications for those in need of treatment.

The policy of upfront visa checks and payment was introduced by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. It is part of a larger effort to decrease the burden of illegal immigrants and ‘medical tourism’ on the NHS. Medical tourism is the practice of travelling abroad for low priced or free medical treatment. The practice does cost the NHS government over a billion pounds a year and is commonly espoused in anti-immigration rhetoric across the UK.

However, a report conducted by Full Fact (the UK’s independent fact-checking charity) found health tourism accounted for 0.3% of the NHS spending every year. The continuing cuts to the NHS’ budget has been the cause of a lot of friction between NHS staff members and the government – evidenced by the Junior Doctor strike in early 2017. It is not anticipated that the savings from this practice will go towards the salary of nurses and doctors on the frontline of this new passport checking service, many of whom will remain on the pay-freeze implemented by our current government.

The passport checks are not the only immigrant-targeted policy in place with the NHS. The Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) is now part of the visa process for anyone coming to the country from outside of the European Economic Area and staying in excess of 6 months – typically those with a view to settle in the UK. This can cost visa applicants anywhere from £150 to £1000, already adding to the annually rising cost of visa applications. Only time will tell if the constant penalisation and demonization of immigrants will discourage people from coming to the UK when it has left the EU and finds itself in need of skilled migrants.

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Business Lobbyist Calls for Government to Moderate Rhetoric on Foreign Workers

A leading business lobbyist has warned the government of the impact of negative rhetoric when speaking about foreign workers. Speaking at a recent conference on foreign labour following Brexit, Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce called for the government to moderate their tone when speaking about foreign workers. In particular, Marshall identified the “best and brightest” rhetoric as being unhelpful for attracting foreign workers.

According to Marshall, a high proportion (around 40%) of the BCC’s members have indicated that they have EU workers who are considering leaving the UK following Brexit. Despite reassurances that freedom of movement will continue for some time after the Brexit deal has been finalised, this isn’t enough to encourage many EU workers to consider coming to the UK or staying in the UK.

According to Marshall, this is in part down to the rhetoric used by politicians throughout the Brexit campaign and in the months since. Speaking to Business Insider, Marshall said: “The plea that I get from rank and file businesses of whatever size and whatever sector is that the rhetoric that we hear from UK citizens and UK media on EU law needs to change.” In particular, the word ‘migrant’ “lands very badly,” he said. “They just see themselves as workers exercising their right to free movement.” He also called for a distinction, after all, “public opposition to migrants is very high, but public opposition to nurses is very low.”

Despite the concerns about turning EU workers away from the UK, Marshall was largely positive about the government’s responsiveness to suggestions from groups like the British Chamber of Commerce. He described the leadership as “broadly responsive” to the concerns and suggestions from the BCC. Although the government may be taking the advice on board, it’s not yet clear if this will translate into action or policy as the Brexit negotiations have slowed to a halt in recent months.

As the Brexit negotiations reached a deadlock, it was reported by the Guardian that Theresa May was set to call French president Emmanuel Macron in an attempt to convince EU leaders to widen the scope of the Brexit negotiations. Although May would like to turn the attention to the particulars of the transition period, her European counterparts have argued that not enough progress has been made in regards to citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border.

If you’re concerned about your status in the UK following Brexit, get in touch with our team today to discuss your situation and see if we can help.

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Banks to Carry Out Checks on 70m Accounts to Track Illegal Immigrants

Starting in January of 2018, banks are to carry out checks on 70 million bank accounts in an effort to uncover illegal immigrants living in the UK. This will be the biggest extension of plans to create a “hostile environment” for those living in the UK unlawfully.

Banks and building societies are set to carry out the checks for the first time in January 2018 and checks will then be carried out quarterly. Those who are identified will see their bank accounts closed down or frozen. The idea behind this is that freezing assets will provide an incentive for those living in the UK illegally to leave as they will be able to access their money again once they have departed.

The plans have been heavily criticised by immigrant rights groups, including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Satbir Singh, who is chief executive of the council said: “The government’s own record shows it cannot be trusted even to implement this system properly. Immigration status is very complex, and the Home Office consistently gives out incorrect information and guidance. Migrants and ethnic minorities with every right to be here will be affected by the imposition of these new checks.”

These new checks are part of the hostile environment directive that came into law by the Immigration Act 2014. This series of measures was intended to make life difficult for those living in the UK without permission so that they would leave voluntarily, or be put off trying to come to the UK in the first place. It included restrictions like the Right to Rent policy, which made landlords and letting agents responsible for checking the immigration status of prospective tenants.

The latest measures are predicted to have an impact on 6,000 individuals who have overstayed a visa or remained in the UK after a failed asylum application. It is also expected to identify foreign nationals facing deportation due to criminal offences. There is concern that some people who are in the UK legally will be caught up in the checks. Banks have been instructed not to deal with people on a case-by-case basis and instead refer those with grievances to the Home Office for further checks.

The Guardian broke this news story after one of their readers spotted a reference to immigration status checks in a recent email from Barclays bank. The changes to their terms and conditions state that there will be “changes to how we check your eligibility to bank with us based on your immigration status”.

If you’re concerned about how these changes might impact you, get in touch with one of our immigration advisors today.

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How do I Keep Track of my UK Visa Status?

When individuals submit their uk visa application to the Home Office, one of the most frustrating parts is the waiting time. A quick search online for the processing times for your particular visa will bring back very frustrating search results. Reports from other applicants will vary, from those saying they received confirmation in a matter of weeks to those dreadful reports of visa applications taking months and months. The good news is that the government has been quietly trialling a new system to help you track your UK visa status.

How to track your UK Visa Status

By visiting this link you will be able to input your reference number and get an update on the status of your visa. In order to be able to track your UK visa status, you will need to have one of the following numbers to hand:

  • Your Case Identification Number or ‘CaseID’. This should be included on all letters you have received from the Home Office and should be an 8 digit number. For example, 12345678. If your number includes a 0 at the beginning, you do not need to include this in the UK visa status form.
  • Payment Reference Number. After you have submitted payment for your application, you should receive a payment reference number that you can use to track the status of your uk visa application. It should follow this format: AG1234567890/123
  • Your Unique Application Number. This is a 16-digit number that will be on all letters and emails your receive from the Home Office.
  • Your Biometric Residence Permit Number. This is a combination of letters and numbers and can be found on your biometric residence permit number.
  • Your Immigration Health Surcharge number. If you had to pay the NHS immigration health surcharge when making your application, you should receive a number after payment. It will be a combination of numbers and letters in the following format: IHS123456789

Once you have located one of these numbers, you can use this information to track your UK visa status.

Can I speed up my UK Visa Status?

If you have used any of the following forms, you may be able to get a decision on your visa within 5 working days. This service only applies to the following visas:

  • SET (AF)
  • SET (F)
  • SET (LR)
  • SET (M)

You will need to download and fill in these request and payment forms from the Home Office. Only the first 5 requests received each day between 8 am and midday between Monday and Thursday are accepted. The cost for this service if £490 per person, in addition to the main application fee.

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UK Home Office Says EU Citizens Won’t Need ID Cards Post Brexit

Controversy sparked this week following the leaked immigration plans from the Home Office that mentioned possible changes for EU citizens in an 82-page document. In a response to the uproar, the Home Office has taken steps in an attempt to reassure EU citizens by announcing that they won’t need ID cards or to be fingerprinted post Brexit despite it being outlined in the leaked plans.

This reassurance has surfaced from pressure group “the3million”, which published the results of a meeting between the group and the Home Office earlier this week. During the meeting, the topic of whether EU citizens will have to meet an income threshold was discussed and it was reported that they would not have to meet a certain amount to stay in the UK after Brexit.

It was agreed by the Home Office that the group could release a statement following the meeting, which was released on Monday. The statement said:

“The Home Office has confirmed in accordance with the Policy Paper (of 26th June 2017) and subsequent negotiations with the Commission on Citizens’ Rights its position that EU citizens: Will not have to prove CSI (comprehensive sickness insurance/private healthcare), will not have to meet an income threshold, will not have to submit fingerprints; will not be issued with an ID card.”

This announcement is said to only apply to EU citizens that have already settled in the UK and not immigrants after Brexit looking to move. The group said they will be “asking the Government to urgently issue public anti-discrimination guidelines for employers, landlords, public services and industries considering the current level of discrimination we uncovered recently.” This comes after a recent report by the3million claimed that EU citizens living in the UK are being increasingly discriminated against when applying for jobs and housing following the vote to leave the EU.

The uncertainty of Brexit continues as it appears there has been a stalemate between both the UK and EU regarding negotiations over the terms of separation. This issue was brought into the limelight following comments from the chairman of the3million who said that there was ‘confusion at the top’ over post-Brexit rights. He stated, “On Friday, we had Theresa May saying we would have the same rights as before, and on Sunday we have David Davis saying we won’t have reunification and we won’t have registration.”

In relation to the released statement, a spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The statement issued by the3million group today reiterates our public position on these issues.”

If you’re an EU citizen and you’re currently confused about your options or what to do next, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our EU immigration specialists.

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Home Office Making Profits of Up To 800% On Visa Applications

Following outrage earlier this year when the Home Office revealed plans to charge visa applicants to contact their support service, there has been fresh criticism directed at application fees.  reported this week that the Home Office is making profits of up to 800% on some visa applications, and the margins are so lucrative that there is an incentive to reject applications to prompt repeat applications.

According to the Guardian, after crunching the numbers available on the Home Office website, they noticed a discrepancy between the cost of processing applications and the fees charged. The example given in the article is an application for indefinite leave to remain for a vulnerable adult dependent relative. Since April, this has incurred a cost of £3,250 per applicant, but it costs the Home Office just £423 to process the application. This means that the application costs 688% more to apply that it costs to process.

The majority of the visas listed in the Home Office’s figures cost much more to apply for that they cost to process. This has sparked speculation that this would offer a financial incentive to reject initial applications on technicalities as this would force applicants to submit a new application and pay the same fee again.

When asked for a comment on the inflated visa fees, the home office commented that the high fees were “only right”. The department was hit with 24.9% cuts to its annual budget and asked to outline a further 6% of cuts. This has prompted concern that some applications may be turned down on technicalities so that applicants will be forced to pay again. The Home Office has argued that the inflated fees are in order to ease the burden on the taxpayer to control the border. They also cite the cost of operating the citizenship and immigration application system in areas that are not backed by any funding.

This isn’t the first time that the Home Office has come under fire for controversial fees. In June of this year, contractors Sitel UK took control of the customer enquiries service for all UK visas. The company reduced the number of languages that were available as part of the customer enquiries service and also introduced a fee to contact the Home Office customer service by phone or email.

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UK Government to put a stop to Surinder Singh, Metock and Zambrano in new immigration plans

As Britain heads towards the EU exit, the government’s decision to put a stop to European law could put future immigration cases at risk.

The Home Office document leaked this week detailed the Conservative government’s intention to bring all immigration matters under the UK system meaning that cases will no longer go to the Court of Justice of the European Union. This will eventually change the country’s perception of immigration law with effects felt throughout a generation.

Whereas most conversations surrounding European law focus on the pointless and often bureaucratic restrictions that are imposed on the country from officials we didn’t elect, the effects of European law have helped reunite many families.

The Surinder Singh route for the family member or spouse of a British citizen who has previously lived in another country within the EEA for a significant period of time. Named after the man who filed the first application, Surinder Singh has been a popular application route for couples that met abroad.

The Metock judgment held that a non-EU national in the UK unlawfully could remain in the country if they entered into an authentic relationship with an EU national residing in the UK. Now if an over stayer remains in the UK regardless of their relationship status they will be viewed as an illegal immigrant.

The Zambrano case involves the non-EEA parent of a child with European citizenship. If the child is a citizenship of a member state then the parent must be granted the rights to the residence of the said member state as well as the right to work in order to preserve the welfare of the child.

European residents will also be brought into line with current sponsorship standards for spouse visas, this will involve European citizens living in the UK is subject to the minimum income requirement of £18,600 per year in order to support a non-EEA partner.

All the proposed changes are part of Theresa May’s government’s plans to reduce the immigration numbers every year to under 100,000. It’s been alleged that the immigration document which was put together in August has been rewritten up to six times in the past few weeks but it’s rhetoric of alienating EU citizens who want to step up their life in the UK has truly been felt.

As the next round of talks is set to commence on the 18th September, Brexit Chief David Davis will be negotiating the terms of immigration which puts into question the living arrangements of thousands of real families in the UK and beyond.

If you are worried these changes could have an impact on your and your family, get in touch with the IAS team today to discuss your case. We have expert immigration lawyers available across the country to help you.

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What does the new Brexit paper mean for business?

A Brexit document leaked last week gave concise insights into what the government is proposing in negotiations. The 80-page document leaked to the Guardian showed that Theresa May’s government has plans to curb EU immigration significantly.

As we knew from recent announcements there are plans for an immediate halt to free movement of labour both to and from Europe. EU citizens who have been in the country from a specific (currently unknown cut-off date) can apply for Leave to Remain which will entitle them to work and study without applying for visas.

Indefinite Leave to Remain is currently available to those who have been living legally in the UK for a continuous period of time whether through work, study or family sponsorship. IAS did experience a significant increase in applications to settle in the UK after Article 50 was announced as Europeans living in the UK looked to solidify their rights.  

As laid out in the conservative manifesto, the government has plans to cut immigration numbers down to under the 100,000 marks per year. This may be achieved through the proposed Brexit-immigration policy that will define EU workers that are high-skilled as desirable whereas low-skilled workers will have less of a chance. Part of the government push to put the workers of Britain first but there are British businesses who will be hit by the labour drain from Europe.

At the moment, there has been no hint of what the government is choosing to define as high or low skilled jobs. The current skills shortage list – the list of occupations employers is allowed to search outside of the non-EEA without initially advertising in the EU for a period of time – consists of jobs such as physical scientists and classical ballet dancers does not mirror the average EU workers contribution to the British economy.

The British Hospitality Association claims 75% of waiters, 25% of chefs and 37% of housekeepers in the UK are EU nationals and at least 60,000 new EU workers are needed every year to fill vacancies. This means there would be a momentous skills gap that would take a number of years to bridge with UK workers with the onus on British businesses to supply that training.

There are still more negotiations to come between the European Union and the United Kingdom as well as the EU Summit in October where the details of Brexit will be discussed from all sides. Businesses will also experience a period of adjustment after Brexit date where they will need to reassess the rights of their EU workers. Currently, smart British businessmen and women are looking into getting sponsorship licences at this very moment in order to assure their workers’ rights and escape the mad rush after Brexit.

Regardless of what side of the argument you personally stand on, Brexit will change the face of immigration to the UK for years to come and will influence the UK’s place in the global economy.

If you’re concerned about your immigration status in the UK following Brexit, get in touch with our team today to discuss your options.

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Homeless Charities Helped To Identify EU Nationals for Removal

The Home Office has come under fire after it was revealed that sensitive data acquired from several key homeless charities in London has been used to identify and deport EU nationals sleeping rough.

According to a report in the Observer, a chain of emails between Home Office immigration Officials and the Greater London Authority reveals how information that was intended to protect rough sleepers was later used to target them. In 2013, then Home Secretary, Theresa May announced plans to create a “hostile environment” for illegal migrants in Britain. In 2016, Theresa May took this policy one step further and made it a policy to be able to remove European nationals accused of sleeping rough.

This isn’t the first time that charities have been caught out in their dealings with the Home Office. Earlier this year, homelessness charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach were sharing information with immigration enforcement officials. A report from Corporate Watch revealed concerns about links between homelessness charities and the Home Office which echoed concerns about involving landlords, the NHS and schools with immigration enforcement.

It was revealed in March 2017 that 127 non-UK rough sleepers were deported during a pilot scheme throughout Westminster. It is not known at this stage how many individuals were deported as a result of the latest information sharing between charities and the Home Office.

The information was shared through a system called CHAIN (the Combined Homelessness and Information Network) which collects information such as nationality, mental health and gender of rough sleepers in order to help policy makers to “identify emerging needs”. Home Office immigration officials had full access to the map for 6-months from September 2016. This was only stopped with homelessness charities voiced their concerns about how the information might be used.

The Observer compared the detainment and deportation figures of EU nationals throughout 2016 and noted a 41% increase in the number of EU nationals detained, compared to the months prior to gaining access to the map. Human Rights group Liberty has expressed concern that this type of immigration system will only make it more difficult for the most vulnerable in society to get the help they need. According to the emails between the Home Office and GLA, the Home Office claimed: “We will use the maps in our authorities for deployment and briefings. Neither will be in the public domain but both would be susceptible to production on foot of a FoI request.”

In response to the claims, a Home Office spokesperson said: “No one should come to the UK with the intention of sleeping rough, and those who are encountered doing this may be misusing their free movement rights.”