A new crackdown on immigration abuses was announced today by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary as part of the government’s long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain.
From November, tougher rules will be imposed on universities and colleges who sponsor international students to study in the UK. Currently, educational institutions cannot enjoy highly trusted sponsor status if 20% or more of the individuals they have offered places to are refused visas. But that figure will be cut to 10% in November after a 3-month transitional period for colleges and universities to re-examine their admissions procedures before offering individuals places.
The Prime Minister also announced plans to halve the period over which European migrants can claim benefits. From November, European jobseekers will only be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance and other key welfare benefits for a maximum period of 3 months. This follows tough changes that were announced earlier this year to introduce a minimum 3 month delay to claiming benefits and to cut off benefits after 6 months unless the individual has very clear job prospects.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
Hardworking people expect and deserve an immigration system that puts Britain first. Over the past 4 years we have clamped down on abuses, making sure the right people are coming here for the right reasons.
At the same time, as part of our long-term economic plan, we have been fixing our education, training and welfare problems with radical school reform, record numbers of apprenticeships and an employment rate that has never been higher. All of these measures will ensure British people get a fair deal.
The new restrictions were announced as the first measures of the government’s flagship Immigration Act 2014 came into force, including:
•restrictions on the abuse of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to family life – by migrants to avoid deportation. In future, judges must consider the British public interest too.
•a new system of “deport now, appeal later” which will help the authorities to remove foreign criminals. If convicted criminals want to appeal against the decision, they will have to do so from their own country
•new powers to revoke the driving licences of illegal immigrants. A total of 3,150 have been revoked since its introduction earlier this month.
With almost 70,000 appeals heard every year, the new Immigration Act aims to cut the current level of Article 8 legislation abuses by making sure the right to family and private life is not regarded as absolute or undisputed. Section 19 of the Act puts into statute the principle that the law should be on the side of the British public and there is an expectation that the courts should have proper regard to Parliament’s view of what the public interest requires.
Other measures in the Act will further limit the benefits and services migrants can access and make it easier to remove people with no legal right to be in the UK. It will also make the UK less attractive to people who want to come here to try to exploit the system.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants, but tough on those who abuse it or flout the law.
The Immigration Act is a landmark piece of legislation that will make Britain a less attractive place for those who come here for the wrong reasons, and allow us to remove more people when they have no right to remain.
We will always act when we see abuse of our immigration system. And that is why we are tightening the rules to cut out abuse in the student visa system.
These reforms are helping to deliver what we have always promised – to build an immigration system that truly works in the national interest.
Government is also today launching a consultation on banning overseas-only advertising – legally requiring employment agencies to advertise in Britain, and new plans to restrict the number of Job Centre Plus jobs which are automatically advertised on an EU-wide job portal.