Many development in Immigration law this summer, which saw developments threatening to undermine human rights protections and access to asylum.
In June 2023, the controversial Bill of Rights was scrapped after facing extensive criticism. The Bill would have weakened enforcement on human rights in the courts and made it more difficult to hold the government accountable for violations. Its failure was a small win for rights advocates, but more work remains.
However, in July, the Illegal Migration Act came into force as law, banning asylum claims from those entering the UK illegally. That same week, immigration rules were revised to allow the Home Office to treat asylum claims as ‘implicitly withdrawn’ if someone fails to maintain contact or attend reporting events, even if beyond their control. This gives the Home Office alarming new powers to discard claims without notice.
The Government claims recent laws like the Illegal Migration Act and Rwanda policy are needed to deter ‘unsafe’ migration, arguing people should only enter the UK through ‘safe and legal’ routes. But the limited existing routes make this near impossible for most asylum seekers. Options like refugee family reunion and resettlement programmes help few people relative to global need.
While the government focuses on punitive deterrents, basic rights and access to asylum are being eroded. Judicial challenges have delayed some measures, but immigrant rights advocates have a continual battle against the UK’s hostile environment. Grassroots campaigns and legal challenges are vital to push back against the government’s anti-rights agenda. Concerned citizens must make their opposition known and demand rights be upheld.
Business Immigration continued to evolve in 2023 in the UK Immigration system. For employers, more occupations have been added to the Shortage Occupation List in key industries facing labour shortages. This is welcomed news for construction firms and fishing vessel operators, who can now more readily hire foreign bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, deckhands and more. By expanding visa routes in areas with demonstrable need, the government aims to balance labour demands while ensuring opportunities for domestic workers.
Specialty training doctors also received a boost, with new permissions allowing for continuity between visa periods. This provides stability for medical practitioners developing specializations and the healthcare organizations investing in their advancement.
The process for becoming an approved visa sponsor has been streamlined as well. Businesses can now request priority service as part of their initial sponsor license application, reducing delays for securing talent. While availability is limited per day, this expedited option creates more flexibility.
For international students, however, changes are more restrictive. From 2024, postgraduate student visa holders will no longer be able to bring dependents, except those studying research degrees. With dependent numbers up eightfold since 2019, the government aims to ease pressure on public services. Students will also be unable to switch from study to work visas before completing studies, closing a perceived loophole.
While immigration remains controversial politically, these balanced measures reflect public priorities. Expanding shortage occupation roles provides pragmatic workforce solutions for UK industries. Yet reducing student dependents and route switching addresses concerns about integration and social infrastructure. The evolving immigration landscape aims for selectivity, looking to attract talent where needed while minimizing systemic strains. Businesses and students would be wise to understand these changes as they navigate the new UK visa landscape.
With Human Rights in the crosshairs, immigration rules in flux, and mixed signals on work visas, the UK’s policies towards migrants and asylum seekers remain contradictory and controversial. Advocates must persist in demanding justice, accountability and compassion in an increasingly harsh legal landscape. Concerted effort is required to prevent further erosion of essential protections.
However, a critical look at these recent policy changes reveals some concerning implications. The steady erosion of asylum rights indicates a troubling disregard for humanitarian obligations. Meanwhile, economic demands partially drive expanded work visas amid labour shortages, undermining notions of universal human rights.
Rather than a balanced, ethical approach, the government seems to view immigration primarily through a lens of utility and control. People are welcomed if they benefit the economy, while asylum seekers and families face unjust exclusions. This instrumentalist mindset privileges nationals over non-citizens and economic growth over human rights.
With time, it has become even more crucial that immigration advisors stay current on these legal developments, which expand entry requirements, restrict migrant rights, and increase sponsor obligations.
The above developments reported are just the tip of the iceberg. Several other updates that have taken place are now a part of MIL contents and at the disposal of our valued subscribers.
By keeping informed about these developments, our MIL subscribers can provide their clients with the most accurate and effective legal advice, ensuring their immigration journeys are handled with expertise and care.
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These and many more are now included in Mastering Immigration Law. A comprehensive list of all the updates from November 2022 – January 2023 period and prior to this are listed for our subscribers reference under the Updates & Documentation module. Please log in to access. Index also updated.
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