- The militarised Mnangagwa Zanu pf regime will prioritise the more important Zanu pf Cabinet ministers for covid vaccine
- EU THREATENS TO BLOCK EXPORTS OF the Belgian-made Pfizer jabs amid a row with UK-based AstraZeneca.
- PRESIDENT MNANGAGWA to preside over a triple Zanu pf burial at Thieves a.ka Heroes Acre on Wednesday,
- THE UK NO LONGER HAS THE WORST coronavirus death rate in the world, figures have revealed.
- BULAWAYO ROADS ARE FULL OF POTHOLES, AND Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses have abandoned several routes despite being the sole public transporter.
AT last, a bit of good news for some has come from the UK Home Office. The statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC535 was announced on 29th October 2015 to introduce further changes to Immigration Law. If there is one thing that Home Secretary Theresa May has done very well, it is never running out of ideas on how to change the UK’s Immigration Laws. She just keeps churning out these changes whenever it suits her. However, HC395 is not all doom and gloom. There is some respite for certain categories of migrants. Most of the changes introduced by this statement of changes will come into force on 19th November 2015.
Some of the changes are as follows:
1. Nurses and Digital Technology jobs
The Statement of Changes HC395 has added nurses and digital technology jobs to the shortage occupation list.
The addition of nurses to the shortage occupation list is a significant step taken by the UK government as it has finally realised that it needs to recruit more nurses from abroad in order to boost the National Health Service (NHS). This will see many hospitals across the country going on a massive recruitment drive to bring nurses from outside the UK, a perfect opportunity for nurses out there which must be taken before the window is shut again.
However, the rules under which nurses will be applying are highly technical. There are several other legal requirements one has to meet apart from just being a qualified nurse in order to get the visa. The rules are points based so an applicant has to score a certain number of points under the rules for their visa application to be successful.
Not only that, applications can also be refused simply because an applicant failed to tick a certain box on the application form. If one’s application is refused, there is no right of appeal against the decision so it is crucial to get the application right otherwise one would have wasted their money applying. Application fees are not refunded where the application is refused.
The advice is for those attempting these applications to get advice from qualified professionals in the UK who are regulated to provide that advice as it is expensive to get the visa since one has to pay the Home Office application fee and NHS Health surcharge when they apply for the visa. Regulated professionals in the UK are accountable and better placed to provide the appropriate standard of service to those going through this process.
People must take advantage of this opportunity whilst it is still on the books. It is likely that the shortage occupation list will be revisited again and nurses removed from it after the government is satisfied that it has got the numbers it needs for the UK NHS. It has happened in the past. The fact that this addition has been made does not mean that it will remain there indefinitely.
2. Withdrawal of Refugee status
After a person is granted refugee status, there are circumstances in which the Secretary of State can withdraw that status. Withdrawal here refers to either revocation, cessation or cancellation of refugee status. HC 395 clarifies the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn. The Immigration rules have not yet been consolidated to reflect these changes. In my opinion, HC 395 has introduced these changes to just make it easier for the Secretary of State to withdraw a person’s refugee status. We will see how the new rules will be applied in practice and an update on that will be provided in the future.
3. Settlement Applications
When applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, an applicant is required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom. This is done through taking and passing an approved English language test and a separate Life in the UK test. Currently, there are approved providers who provide the English language test. The change in this area is that now applicants will have to take a ‘secure English language test’.
Another change is the introduction of the £35k minimum earnings threshold for Tier 2 settlement applications. This means Tier 2 migrants will need to earn not less than £35,000 in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This change will come into force on 6 April 2016.
For those who want more details about the above changes, please go to www.gov.uk and look for the statement of changes there.
The Immigration Bill 2015 which was discussed in the previous article published on this website in September 2015 is now being considered by the House of Lords. Once it has gone through the various stages in that house and been approved there it will return to the House of Commons for some final amendments before it receives Royal Ascent and becomes law. Once it has come into force, an update will be provided as this bill might affect many people.
In the meantime, the Home Office has gone ahead with its plans to make Landlords their de-facto immigration officers. On the 20th October 2015, the Home Office announced that from the 1st of February 2016, landlords will have a statutory duty to carry out immigration checks on all their tenants. A breach of this duty will attract a fine of up to £3,000 under the Immigration Act 2014.
The Immigration Bill 2015 will escalate this and make landlords in breach of this duty liable to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years. Landlords will have to carry out ‘right to rent’ checks’ on their tenants directly with the Home Office if they have any doubts about their tenant’s right to rent property in the United Kingdom.
Human rights campaigners have conducted research and established that this move will result in discrimination against people from ethnic minority backgrounds but unfortunately the Home Office has ignored the calls. The only hope now is for the House of Lords to stop the Immigration Bill 2015 from becoming law by not approving it.
4. British Citizenship
I have received a number of enquiries from people who have tried to submit their applications for British Citizenship through the Nationality Checking service and they have been advised not to apply until after 10 years because of a previous breach of immigration laws.
The 10 years is counted from the date of the breach. That is the position of the Home Office but there are legal challenges that can be made where cases are refused because of a previous breach of the Immigration rules. Of course the Nationality Service is not going to advise you on these legal challenges because they are not there to give direct legal advice especially on how people can challenge the Home Office in their cases.
People have to speak to their solicitors about their individual cases and not be intimidated by the information they are receiving from the Nationality Checking Service. In fact people do not have an obligation to consult the Nationality Checking Service before applying for citizenship. It is better to seek your own independent legal advice from solicitors rather than using the nationality checking service which is a partnership between the Government and Local Authorities.
Despite the changes to citizenship applications introduced by the Home Office in December 2014, it is advisable for people to apply for their British Citizenship now because it is very likely that in the future it will become a lot more difficult to attain that status than it is now. This is a window that is slowly closing.
Please note that this paper does not seek to provide direct legal advice in people’s individual cases. If you think you may be affected by the Immigration law reforms in the UK, please seek advice from a professional.
Primerose Makunzva is a solicitor practising in the United Kingdom. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on + 44 (0)7818 066522/ + 44 (0)203 176 5216. You can also watch her Immigration Law updates at www.ailtv.com
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on immigration law. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information. by Primerose Makunzva