The Immigration Bill 2015

The Immigration Bill 2015 - 16, Bill 74 of 2015 – 16, is due to have its second reading in the Commons on 13 October. The Bill (as introduced) is in nine parts. The main provisions are as follows:

Part 1 would establish a Director of Labour Market Enforcement, who would be required to produce a Labour Market Enforcement Strategy and report annually to the Home Secretary and Business Secretary. It also creates a new offence of illegal working and seeks to strengthen the sanctions to be applied to employers of illegal workers.

Part 2 would build on existing measures to restrict irregular migrants’ access to residential tenancies, driving and bank accounts. It creates four new offences applicable to landlords and letting agents who let properties to migrants who do not have a valid immigration status, and gives landlords new powers to evict tenants who do not have a ‘right to rent’. There are new powers to search for and seize driving licences held by irregular migrants and a new offence of driving a vehicle when unlawfully in the UK. The Bill also introduces obligations on banks to carry out immigration status checks on current account holders.

Part 3 would give new immigration enforcement powers, including to search for, seize and retain evidence of ‘illegal working’ or ‘illegal renting’, seize evidence of non-immigration criminal offences, and search for and seize nationality documents. Legislative provisions on granting immigration bail or other alternatives to detention would be replaced by a single new status of “immigration bail”, and the Home Secretary would be given powers to impose bail conditions, including electronic tagging, where the First-Tier Tribunal does not do so.

Part 4 would extend changes to appeal rights introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, in order to enable the Home Secretary to remove from the UK migrants who are appealing against a refusal of a human rights claim before the appeal has been determined, if she certifies that the person’s temporary removal would not cause serious irreversible harm or breach the UK’s human rights obligations.

Part 5 would reform financial and accommodation arrangements for certain categories of migrant. ‘Section 4’ support for refused asylum seekers and certain other categories of migrant would be replaced by a new category of support which would be available to destitute refused asylum seekers who face a “genuine obstacle” to leaving the UK.

Part 6 would introduce new powers to create a civil penalty scheme to ensure port operators’ and transport carriers’ compliance with legal obligations to manage the disembarkation of passengers in the UK. It would also extend some immigration enforcement powers to UK territorial waters, and amend the legislative process for implementing international travel bans.

Part 7 would introduce a duty on public authorities to ensure that all public sector workers in public-facing roles are able to speak fluent English.

Part 8 would introduce an “immigration skills charge”, payable by employers who sponsor non-EEA national workers. The money raised would be spent on addressing skills shortages in the UK. This part of the Bill would also change the legislative framework for passport fees and reform the framework for civil registration fees.

Although immigration control is a reserved matter, some of the provisions would have a differential effect across the UK. Annex B to the Bill’s Explanatory Notes provides a comprehensive overview of the territorial extent and application of the Bill’s provisions.