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Press Release
27 March 2015

Scott Wood, Conservative Candidate Statement on the Immigration Act 2014

I am writing to update you on the progress the Government has made on implementing the Immigration Act 2014 – a vital part of our fundamental reforms to the immigration system since 2010.

Since the start of this Parliament, the Government has taken action across the board to secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and continue to attract the brightest and the best to the UK.

The Immigration Act 2014 was a key part of our reforms. It helps us to stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reducing the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK for the wrong reasons, and makes it easier to remove people who should not be here. The Act received Royal Assent in May last year and is already delivering real benefits. Over the last year, we have:

  • Reduced the number of appeal routes in the immigration system from 17 to 4.
  • Used our new ‘deport first, appeal later’ powers of non-suspensive appeal to remove over 600 foreign criminals since July who would previously have had a right to appeal in the UK.
  • Reformed the penalty scheme for those who employ illegal workers by making it simpler to enforce unpaid penalties in the courts, having already doubled the maximum penalty to £20,000. Over 1,000 civil penalties were issued from July to December 2014.
  • Introduced new powers to revoke driving licences from unlawful migrants, and strengthened the UK residence requirement for new applicants. Since July, over 7,500 driving licences have been revoked.
  • Exercised new powers to allow the Home Secretary to block bail when someone is scheduled to be removed within 14 days. Previously immigration judges could grant bail, meaning an individual would be released from detention and their removal would usually fail. Since July, 7 removals have followed the refusal to consent to bail in 8 hearings.
  • Extended the duty on registrars to report suspected sham marriages and civil partnerships; we have received over 2,000 reports since July. Linked to this, we have undertaken over 2,000 sham marriage operations in the first nine months of 2014–15, resulting in over 1,200 arrests and over 430 removals. This compares with 331 removals in the whole of 2013–14. Further measures in the Act to tackle sham marriages and civil partnerships were introduced at the start of this month.
  • Implemented new powers to require private landlords to check the immigration status of new tenants or risk a civil penalty. Since 1 December we have received over 50 requests through the landlords checking service (which is operating in its first phase in parts of the West Midlands) to clarify someone’s immigration status. In a number of cases this has led to enforcement action, and four landlords have received a notice that they are liable to a fine. We will evaluate this work before extending the requirement in the next Parliament.
  • Implemented new measures which require all banks and building societies to refuse to open current accounts for known immigration offenders. Since 12 December 2014, when the new measures came into force, there have been over 250 cases where there has been a match on Home Office data and a current account application is likely to have been refused in these cases.

These measures from this important Act – along with the wider record of reforms outlined overleaf – are helping us to build an immigration system which clamps down on abuse and those who break the rules, while welcoming the brightest and best to Britain.

Some of the reforms we have made to the immigration system since 2010

Economic immigration
• Capping the number of skilled non-EU workers who can come to Britain at 20,700 a year.
Student immigration
• Closing down more than 860 colleges.
• Stopping colleges sponsoring overseas students if too many of their prospective students are turned down visas.
• Requiring students to speak better English – and testing them on it to check they are genuine students.
• Interviewing more than 120,000 people a year before they come to the UK to check they are genuinely coming to study.
• Giving Border Force staff the power to refuse entry to people with student visas who can’t speak English.
• Limiting which students can bring family members into the country.
• Only letting foreign students earning at least £20,500 or those qualifying for a specialist graduate scheme to stay after their course.
Family immigration
• Introducing a minimum income threshold of £18,600 for people bringing family from outside the EU.
• Increasing the amount of time family members have to be in the country before they can apply for settlement in the UK.
• Removing the full right of appeal for family visitors to save money and speed up the system for applicants.
EU immigration
• Stopping new EU immigrants claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for the first three months they are here, and only allowing them to claim for three months after that.
• Stopping new EU jobseekers claiming housing benefit.
• Making immigrants pass a tougher test before they can claim benefits
• Making sure EU nationals are genuinely working before they get access to in work benefits.
• Removing people who are not here to work – if they are begging, or sleeping rough – and stopping them from coming back.
• Changing how free movement comes in for countries joining the EU in the future.
• Committing to renegotiate EU freedom of movement.
Access to public services
• Clamping down on health tourism by getting hospitals to recover more of the money owed by foreign patients.
• Making temporary non-EU migrants here for more than 6 months pay an NHS surcharge.
• Introducing a local residency test for social housing so people have to have lived in an area for a number of years before they are eligible for social housing.
Foreign workers
• Doubling the maximum penalty for employing illegal workers to £20,000.
• Quadrupling the maximum fine for paying below the National Minimum Wage from £5,000 to £20,000.
• Increasing the penalties for rogue landlords who house people illegally in ‘beds in sheds’.
• Giving councils more money and better guidance to help them identify and tackle rogue landlords.
• Bringing in tougher, life sentences for rogue gangmasters with the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
• Banning overseas-only recruitment by legally requiring recruitment agencies to advertise in English in the UK.
• Restricting the number of jobs vacancies being advertised across Europe.
Supporting the English language
• Testing non-EU migrants on their English skills before they can get a visa.
• Testing EU jobseekers on their English skills so we can stop giving them benefits if their language skills are stopping them from getting a job.
• Making sure councils reduce spending on translation.
• Stopping routine translation services for people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
• Revising the Life in the UK test and testing migrants wanting to settle in the country on their knowledge of the values and principles at the heart of being British.
Illegal immigration
• Stopping illegal migrants getting driving licences that can be used as identification to help get access to benefits, services and employment to which they were not entitled.
• Making it harder for illegal immigrants to open bank accounts and access products like credit cards, mortgages and mobile phones.
• Making it harder for illegal immigrants to live in rented housing by requiring landlords to check they are allowed to be in the country.
• Creating a £12 million fund to strengthen security at Calais, and other juxtaposed ports, and we are working more closely than ever with our French partners to tackle illegal immigration and track down people smugglers.
• Changing the law to make it easier to deport foreign criminals by cutting the number of appeal rights, deporting people then hearing their appeal later and stopping judges interpreting the right to a family life too generously.
• Removing more than 23,000 foreign national offenders since April 2010.
Abolishing the flawed UK Border Agency and replacing it with three smaller commands reporting directly to Ministers – Border Force, UK Visas and Immigration and Immigration Enforcement – with distinct cultures and purposes


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