There have been several notable developments in UK immigration law and policy over May 2023 which advisors should be aware of. We bring you a summary of the most significant ones in this blog.
Two substantial developments have unfolded in May 2023 with the advent of ETA system and a new Guidance on BRP Enrolments for entry clearance visas.
A new electronic travel authorization (ETA) system is being introduced in stages starting November 2023. Nationals of certain countries will need to obtain an ETA before traveling to the UK, valid for up to 6 months. There are eligibility and suitability criteria, including mandatory refusals for certain criminal convictions. ETAs can also be cancelled if the holder breaches conditions or makes false representations.
New guidance has been published on handling requests from overseas applicants claiming it is unsafe to travel to enrol biometrics. This aims to help join family members in the UK. Options include pre-determination of the application before attending biometrics enrolment, or excusing attendance completely until after entry clearance is granted. However, this is only permitted in exceptional circumstances after exhausting alternatives.
The most controversial and highly contradicted Illegal Migration Bill Act became the after receiving Royal Assent. Controversially, it prevents asylum seekers entering irregularly from claiming asylum. It also introduces a new 28-day detention power without access to bail or judicial review, although habeas corpus still applies.
The Act continues to be criticized by legal practitioners and human rights activists alike as it puts the already vulnerable asylum seekers at further risk of return to the very dangers they have escaped from.
However, this is not the only area attracting criticism for the Government. The Government has also invited censure from education and international student sector with the announcement on changes to the rules granting entry clearance for student dependents.
From January 2024, student dependants will generally only be allowed for PhD and other research-based postgraduate courses. This will exclude dependants for most taught Masters programs. Partners and children excluded under the Student route will also be ineligible under the Graduate route. This may increase Skilled Worker applications.
Positive news on the business immigration front, announcement of relaxed reporting of Hybrid Working. UKVI’s Guidance has been updated removing the need to report individual hybrid workers to the Home Office. However, sponsors should still maintain internal awareness of flexible working arrangements. The guidance may be updated again to confirm no reporting is needed at all.
To conclude in summary, measures such as indefinite detention without judicial review raise serious human rights concerns. The ETA system also increases barriers to entry and state power to exclude travelers. While governments must balance complex policy objectives, the rights and dignity of migrants should not be compromised. Advisors play a vital role in ensuring new rules are applied lawfully and proportionately. It will be important to closely monitor how these significant changes are implemented to uphold access to justice and the rule of law.
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.
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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