With the coming into force of the Immigration Act 2014 (The “Act”) and the new Immigration Bill (The “Bill”), which is currently going through parliament, there is an inherent air of unfairness towards migrants who are contributing immensely to the UK.
The purpose of the changes was to create a hostile environment for foreign criminals and illegal immigrants but there are unfair unintended or perhaps intended consequences in store for legal, genuine and legitimate immigrants contributing to our society.
British citizens, genuine immigrant families, children, husbands, wives, partners and individuals have their rights to family or private life denied by the Home Office and are being forced out of the UK. More worrying are the whispers of the uncanny similarities in principle with the Home Office’s acquired powers and the tale of Mugabe and the White Africans. The Mugabe Principle – “I will always stick to my principles to cater for the public interest” but is it really …?
Questions and Answers
Question#1 – Do the new changes give Immigration Officers new and unprecedented police-like powers to create a hostile environment for migrants and their families?
Answer – Yes. What is particularly concerning is that there are little or no safeguards, as there are against the abuse of police powers, to protect individuals and families against the abuse of immigration powers.
Question #2 – I am married to a British citizen. Does the Home Office have the power to remove me from the UK without notice if my visa is refused?
Answer – Yes. There is no right of appeal against any Home Office decision to refuse a visa except under human rights grounds or refugee protection grounds. Human Rights grounds are very difficult to succeed.
Question #3 – My husband and I are British citizens. My sister’s visa was refused. Does the Home Office have powers to enter and search my home?
Answer – Yes. The new powers allow immigration officers to enter and search the premises of a third party if there are reasonable grounds to believe that relevant documents may be found there.
Question #4 – If I give shelter to a vulnerable mother and child whose visas were refused, can I go to prison?
Answer – Yes. With the new Bill, you can go to prison for up to 5 years if you knowingly rent to a migrant who does not have the right to rent. The new changes also give the Home Office powers to issue civil penalties against landlords who fails to check and record the immigration status of a tenant.
Question #5 – If the Home Office refuses my visa, can I have the decision independently reviewed?
Answer – No. With the new changes in place, appeal rights have been replaced by Home Office administrative reviews. Only the Home Office sitting in judgment can review its decisions except where human rights grounds or refugee protection grounds have been raised.
Question #6 – If the Home Office refuses my visa and I raise human rights grounds, can the Home Office deport me? What if I am an EEA citizen?
Answer – Yes. A person liable to be deported who raises human rights grounds by default can be removed from the UK if the Home Office certifies any appeal before it is exhausted on the basis that there is no risk of serious irreversible harm if removed. Any right of appeal can only then be exercised abroad. An EEA citizen pending an appeal in a similar situation can also be deported.
Question #7 – I cannot speak English very well but I am financially independent, does that mean that the Home Office can deny my right to family or private life in the UK?
Answer – Yes. In all cases the Home Office will deem it not to be in the public interest if you are not able to speak English. This is because the Home Office interprets the public interest consideration defined by Article 8 of the ECHR to support a refusal if you are not able to speak English regardless of your right to family or private life – the Home Office principle.
Question #8– Does the Home Office have to use reasonable force in exercising all the powers granted to it by the Act?
Answer – No. The Home Office’s power to use reasonable force has been broadened to allow the use of force when it is necessary in exercising the powers conferred to it by the Act.
Question #9– If I am naturalised as a British citizen, can the Home Office deprive me of my British citizenship?
Answer – Yes. If you became a British citizen by naturalisation and the Home Office is satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good and has reasonable grounds for believing that you are able to become a national of another country, your citizenship can be deprived.