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Immigration Act 2014

Part 3: Access to Services etc

22.Existing restrictions prevent migrants who do not have the right to enter or remain in the UK from accessing social housing. On 25 March 2013 the Prime Minister committed to creating a new general duty on private landlords to check a tenant’s immigration status.(6) In July 2013 the Government conducted a public consultation titled Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation.(7) The Act enables civil penalties to be imposed on those private landlords who rent out premises to illegal migrants without making appropriate checks. This approach is similar to existing obligations on employers to check immigration status in the 2006 Act.

23.Where a landlord can demonstrate that they undertook specified checks regarding the migrant’s status before first granting them rights of occupation they will have a statutory excuse to avoid liability for the civil penalty. There will be a code of practice to ensure checks are not carried out on a discriminatory basis, as well as an appeals process against the imposition of a civil penalty. The measures are intended to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to rent property and thus encourage illegal migrants to regularise their stay or leave the UK.

24.Other than visitors, most temporary migrants with time-limited immigration status are currently able to access the NHS for free during their stay in the UK. The Home Office consultation Controlling Immigration – Regulating Migrant Access to Health Services in the UK(8) set out proposals to amend this position. The Act provides for an immigration health charge which will be payable by certain categories of temporary migrant. Migrants would pay the charge at the same time as they applied for entry clearance for a limited period of leave, or limited leave to enter or remain in the UK, including an application to vary leave. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that migrants pay towards the cost of health services available in the UK commensurate with their limited immigration status.

25.The Home Office already works in partnership with the financial services industry to help prevent fraud. CIFAS(9) holds Home Office data on thousands of known immigration offenders. The Act contains provision intended to ensure that those known to be unlawfully in the UK can be prevented from opening a current account.

26.The 2006 Act sets out a prohibition on the employment of adults who are subject to immigration control and do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or who are subject to a condition preventing the acceptance of the employment. The prohibition is supported through both a civil penalty regime and a criminal sanction. Enforcing civil penalties is a complex process and the Home Office consultation paper, Strengthening and simplifying the civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal working,(10) published on 9 July 2013, set out proposals for how this could be streamlined. The Act amends existing legislation to require an employer to exercise their right to object to a civil penalty before they can appeal to the civil court. It also simplifies and accelerates the enforcement of civil penalty debts in the civil courts.

27.The Prime Minister’s speech of 25 March 2013 also included a commitment to ensure that illegal immigrants do not hold UK driving licences. Historically, it has been easy for illegal immigrants to secure driving licences and enjoy the privileges of being able to drive and the advantages this brings in securing a settled lifestyle. The published policy in relation to the granting of licences was amended in March 2010 so as to require all applicants to demonstrate that they are in the UK lawfully(11) and 3,000 applications per annum have been refused as a consequence. The sections in the Act on driving licences reflect and support this policy. They also provide powers to revoke a licence held by an illegal immigrant; this will be exercised primarily in respect of those who obtained a licence before immigration checks were introduced, and also those individuals who arrived in the UK lawfully but have subsequently remained unlawfully.

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