Author: citylegal

European parliament threatens to veto UK’s ‘damp squib’ offer on citizens’ rights

The  European Parliament has threatened to veto Theresa May’s offer on EU citizens’ rights, branding it a “damp squib” which risks creating a “second class of citizenship.”

In a letter published by several European newspapers, MEPs claimed Mrs May’s proposals “cast a dark cloud of vagueness and uncertainty over the lives of millions of Europeans.” It came after Mrs May unveiled what she described as a “fair and generous offer” which would grant permanent residence to the three million EU citizens who came to Britain before Brexit.

“The British government proposes that – the day after Brexit – Europeans obtain the status of ‘third country nationals’. These nationals would get fewer rights in the UK than British citizens are offered throughout the EU,” MEPs wrote.

“Europeans will not only lose their right to vote in local elections, their future family members will also be subject to minimum income requirements, and it is unclear what the status of ‘post-Brexit’ babies will be.”

“We will never endorse the retroactive removal of acquired rights. The European Parliament will reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens, regardless of their nationality, less favorably than they are at present.”

The European Parliament will have a vote on the final deal, which will include the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa. However, it has no involvement in the negotiating stage of the UK’s withdrawal, which is led by the European Commission and Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit.

Though the letter is unlikely to sway the British government, MEPs hope it will pile further pressure on Mr Barnier to secure a deal which suits their demands.A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) dismissed the letter as an “unhelpful distortion” which contained “a number of inaccuracies.”

It bore the signatures of all parliamentary group leaders, including Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and Manfred Weber, the head of the European People’s Party Group.

British negotiators say that initial discussions over the citizens rights deal have been “positive”, although differences remain.Under Mrs May’s offer, EU citizens who arrived in Britain before a still-to-be-negotiated “cut-off date” would apply for settled status.

Those who have already lived in Britain for five years would be fast-tracked to settled status, with the remainder allowed to stay until they accrued five years.But the European Commission has said that this “does not go far enough,” demanding that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) continues to have jurisdiction over the rights of EU citizens in the UK, even after Brexit.The British government has rejected this, and instead offered to enshrine the rights of EU citizens who live in the UK under international law, making it impossible to renege on them in the future.Senior EU diplomats in the UK told The Daily Telegraph that their citizens had reacted negatively to the UK offer, particularly the lack of detail on registration procedures which the UK says will be “light touch”.

What does that mean? It’s a year now since Brexit and we still don’t have any real detail about how the system will work. And based on past  experience [of the UK immigration authorities] there is very little trust. We need to know what,when and how,” said one official. In the letter, the European Parliament also claimed the British offer would transform the UK into a “champion of red tape,” as “each family member, including children, have to make separate applications for “settled status”.

Full story can be read here.

Immigration amnesty for Grenfell fire residents

The Home Office said it would not conduct immigration checks on survivors and those coming forward with information. Labour called for a wider “amnesty”.The Home Office said its priority was to see residents “deal with the extremely difficult circumstances” so they could start to rebuild their lives.

In a written statement to Parliament, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis said: “Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the government is there for them at this terrible time and we will continue to provide the support they need to help them through the difficult days, weeks and months to come.”

He said extending the period of leave to remain for foreign residents affected by the fire would also allow them to assist the police and other authorities with their inquiries.

How many illegal immigrants are there in the UK?

How many illegal immigrants are in Britain? It’s a hot political question, and one of the reasons why is that the total is so hard to calculate. Here’s what we know. The Office for National Statistics puts the estimated net migration to the UK for the year ending June 2016 at 650,000. Whilst immigration from the EU was highest on record, immigration from non-EU countries was largely similar to the previous years. However, that doesn’t tell us much about illegal immigration.

Can we even calculate the number of illegal immigrants?

There’s a difficulty in working out the number of illegal immigrants in the UK for obvious reasons. They exist largely as an unregistered collective, and if there was some way to universally register them, well, they’d all get deported. The Office for National Statistics does not collect estimates on the number of illegal immigrants, stating in response to a FOI request last year that “by its very nature it is impossible to quantify accurately the number of people who are in the country illegally.” Although the ONS could use the Annual Population Survey or the Census, these methods would leave large holes considering the  ‘hidden’ population of illegal immigrants. Although GPs, landlords, schools and charities are increasingly expected to monitor immigration, there are still no hard figures.

What estimates have been made?

The most recent number comes from 2005. That year, the Government assessed methods other countries used to estimate their level of illegal immigration, and applied those techniques to the UK. Creating an estimate for 2001, they predicted the number at 430,000. In 2007, the London School of Economics produced a report estimating the number of ‘irregular’ migrants at 533,000.

The government does, however, collect “Immigration Enforcement Data”  including information such as number of visits based on tip-offs, number of people refused entry and number of offenders deported. For example, the number of enforcement visit arrests from information in 2016 was 941.  The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford put the number of deported immigrants at 40,896 in 2015, but it also does not make an estimation of number of ‘irregular’ immigrants. The Observatory states that “irregular migration is by definition not recorded and eludes statistical coverage” and told the New Statesman that its inability to produce more up-to-date reports is due to there being “no useful data at all about this subject.” The Observatory concluded, “working out who is breaking the rules and who isn’t involves knowing what all people who enter the UK are doing, which isn’t recorded in a systematic way.”

What is the government doing?

Leaving the EU, mainly. Theresa May, during her time as Home Secretary was harsh on immigration, deporting 48,000 international students at one point due to suspicion over a fraudulent English language test which later proved to be legal. There are ample controversial initiatives that exist, such as Prevent and legislation making it illegal for landlords to rent properties to illegal immigrants.

Right now, the sheer difficulty at estimating the number of illegal immigrants gives ample opportunity for , a popular term these days, fake news. From the Daily Mail to ‘Migration Watch’, concerns about illegal immigrants are often more influenced by ideology than evidence.

If you need advice or help regarding your immigration matter please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 3695 4626.

Parliamentary Committee Wants Brexit Bill To Protect Residence Rights

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), has tabled an amendment to the ‘Article 50 Bill’ designed to protect the residence rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

This follows the Supreme Court’s ruling that Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) – which sets out the procedure for a Member State to leave the EU – can only be triggered by an Act of Parliament. A ‘Bill’ is an Act of Parliament that is under consideration and has not yet been approved. The government published its ‘Brexit Bill’ this yesterday, prompting a wave of proposed amendments.

What would the amendment do?

Citizens of the EU enjoy ‘residence rights’ in all other Member States, allowing them to live and work in any EU country without a visa. For the moment at least, this applies to the UK – British citizens can live and work in other EU countries, and other EU citizens can live and work in the UK. Unless they are protected during the Brexit negotiations, these rights may be lost once the UK formally leaves the EU.

Mrs. Harman’s amendment aims to protect the residence rights of EU nationals who moved to the UK on or before 23 June 2016 (the date of the EU referendum). It does not create any new rights, but seeks to ensure that EU citizens who moved to the UK before the referendum will not lose their right to residence in the UK post-Brexit.

How does this relate to human rights?

Part of the JCHR’s concern is that forcing EU nationals to leave may violate their right to respect for their home and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This would be particularly problematic for long-term residents who have strong family connections in the UK, and could lead to legal claims against the government in the European Court of Human Rights.

This amendment will be considered along with several others over the next couple of weeks as the Article 50 Bill is debated and ultimately voted on by the House of Commons.

EU citizens in UK could face ‘deliberate hostility’ policy after Brexit

EU citizens could have their lives turned upside down with bank accounts closed, employment terminated and rental agreements revoked if their current rights to reside in the UK are not guaranteed after Brexit.

This would be a  “nightmare scenario” in which the government decides that those settled in the country before the referendum do not have the right to stay when the UK leaves the EU. Non-EU citizens seeking to secure the right of permanent residency in the UK are already subjected to what is a “deliberate hostility policy” by the Home Office, where life is made so difficult it becomes near impossible or impossible to stay in the country. The government has declared it would like to offer the 3 million EU citizens settled in the UK before the referendum the right to remain but it has left the threat hanging in the air by declaring those rights “negotiating capital” in Brexit talks.

The Home Office has repeatedly said it cannot guarantee those rights unless the rights of the 1.2 million British people in the EU are reciprocated. We believe, if Britain fails to get a deal for Britons in Europe it is highly unlikely that it will move to deport EU citizens in retaliation. Logistically, it would be impossible and politically, it would be explosive. However, it could subject EU citizens to the Immigration Act 1971 and make it as difficult as possible for people to stay. The Home Office has deliberately operated a “hostile environment” policy for years in an effort to get non-EU immigration numbers down because the Home Office doesn’t have the manpower to do what parliament has asked asked it to do. It has in effect outsourced immigration control to employers, landlords, banks and airlines, allowing them to seek proof of residency and create havoc for people if they do not have documents.

We are afraid , if the nightmare scenario happens, the day after Brexit, an employer who is on the ball, who holds a sponsor licence, will need to see their Europeans are here lawfully and they will ask the question: “Have you regularised your stay?”. If not, they may have the right to terminate employment. When it comes the time to renew your lease with your landlord and they say: “I want to see something that says something to say you can live here”, you lose your house. The DVLA takes away your driving licence, your bank closes your bank account down, etc.

Currently, we are dealing with this inconvenience with non-EU nationals, the Home Office outsourced immigration enforcement to a private company, so when we had clients who were refused, they got calls and text messages every hour asking them to leave the UK.

The 85-page application form requires huge files of documentation including P60s for five years, historic utility bills and a diary of all occasions an individual has left the country since they settled in the UK. Some have even received letters inviting them to prepare to leave the country after failing to tick one of the boxes on the form. The language used in these letters is no accident. It is designed to scare people, it has not been written by a junior in the Home Office, it has been signed off by someone more senior.

The “hostile environment” was a legacy of Theresa May as a home secretary who promised to get immigration numbers down. The government are using EU citizens as bargaining chips in the article 50 negotiations.

We believe they should not play into their hands and should do as much as they can to secure their position.

If you think that you may have entitlement to Permanent Residence in the UK and you would like to apply for permanent residence card; or if you have any questions in relation to your immigration status in the UK as a European national please feel free to contact our team of advisers and we will gladly assist you to obtain the best outcome.

Give us a call on 020 3695 4626 or email us at enquiries@citylegalservices.co.uk

 

Theresa May’s immigration triumph could be her legacy

Since the EU referendum in June, the number of people applying for asylum has fallen sharply. Before the vote, a typical figure for applicants in the summer was over 3,000 per month. The figure for July was 1,700. Over the course of the whole year, it looks as though numbers will be about 30 per cent down on the average of the previous five years.

A friend in the refugee charitable sector tells me no one is precisely sure why this fall has taken place, but that one can make educated guesses, based on what asylum seekers say. One is that Home Office procedures are, in general, tightening. Another is that the mood has changed, and the new arrivals feel they are less likely to be welcomed. The most significant, though, is that they know, if they are granted asylum in post-Brexit Britain, that it will carry no automatic right to settle in other EU countries.

If this last is the key factor, it probably applies to most other would-be immigrants, not only to asylum seekers. (And it confirms that Brexit-voters were reasonable to fear that large influxes into other EU countries – notably Germany’s one million refugees last year – would ultimately increase numbers in Britain too.) The pressure on Britain will therefore ease and that on the borderless, Schengen countries will probably grow.

Whether one laments or welcomes a decline in migrant numbers, the politics of this are clearly good for Theresa May. If, after years during her time as Home Secretary of immigration numbers going up, they now, with her as Prime Minister, fall, people will believe she means business. Voters will be able to see a trend even before Brexit has actually happened. This, in turn, will make more of them believe that Brexit will be successful. At a time when short-term economic woes will make leaving the EU look less enticing, falling immigration rates will cheer up wavering Leavers.

Mrs May, of course, will have her eyes fixed on these figures. One must expect her to do everything she legally can to have them pointing at what she would see as the right direction at the right time – the next election.

Brexit remains a delicate subject for social conversation. At a recent party in London, I met several non-British EU citizens who spoke ruefully about not being wanted here any more (though none who felt this strongly enough that they planned to leave). One man, who has lived in Britain for many years, told me that he was, as it used to say on jars of bargain honey, the “product of more than one country” through his parentage. I asked him how he liked to describe himself. “Only by using a word which are no longer allowed to use, beginning with E”, he said.

Full Story can be read here.

No 10 admits ‘confusion’ over foreign staff list

Downing Street has said it will listen to the concerns of businesses following what it described as “confusion” over the way some of its immigration proposals have been received.A briefing note distributed at last week’s Tory conference suggested companies may have to disclose the number of foreign workers they employ.

Business has branded the idea “anti-worker” and said it should be dropped.But No 10 said: “There was never a plan for the lists to be made public.”Labour’s said the Conservatives were in “disarray” over their policy.

A row broke out after the note was circulated following Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s speech to the Conservative Party conference last Tuesday.Although Ms Rudd did not mention businesses having to disclose how many foreign workers they employed, the note contained a proposal suggesting that firms should be “clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”.

More than 100 business leaders, including Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria, have written an open letter to the home secretary calling for the idea to be abandoned, saying foreign workers should be “celebrated not demonised”.

“Amber Rudd’s plan would hurt the economy, hurt workers’ rights, and hurt Britain’s standing as a tolerant country,” they wrote.”As members of the business community we will not comply with such a policy.”Steve Hilton, an aide to former prime minister David Cameron, has described the measure as “foreign working shaming”.He addressed his thoughts to Ms Rudd in the Sunday Times: “Hey Amber, for your next brainwave, why not announce that foreign workers will have numbers tattooed on their forearms?

“You might as well do the job of killing Britain’s reputation as an open, enterprise economy properly.”SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon suggested it would mean companies being “named and shamed for the foreign workers they employ” while Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “It would be a sad day if having a global workforce was seen as a badge of shame”.

But the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “There appears to have been an element of confusion over this. There was never a plan for the lists to be made public.”This is a very broad consultation process that we’re talking about that is looking at all the work and study routes into the UK.

“The purpose of this consultation is so that we get that feedback, we can listen to business and business concerns and use that feedback to inform our decisions on what the immigration policy is going to look like.

The full story can be read here.

UK businesses hiring too many foreigners, says Rudd

The UK’s new home secretary has taken aim at British businesses for offering too many jobs to international candidates, saying tougher curbs on hiring foreigners were needed to ensure they are not taking jobs from Britons.

In her first major speech in her new post, Amber Rudd questioned whether the immigration system provided the “right incentives” for businesses to invest in British workers. She said she would look at tightening the test that companies take before recruiting from abroad.“The [visa] test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do,” Ms Rudd told the Conservative party conference. “But it has become a tick-box exercise, allowing some firms to get away with not training local people. We won’t win in the world if we don’t do more to upskill our own workforce.”

Under Theresa May’s tenure at the Home Office, visa rules for non-EU students and workers were made much stricter. But despite these efforts, net migration is more than three times higher than the government target. As the health secretary also outlined plans to make the National Health Service less dependent on overseas medics, ministers signalled a determination to bear down on immigration even before Brexit occurs.Employer groups, which are already at odds with the May government over its increasingly hard line on cutting ties to the EU and efforts to shake up boardrooms, expressed dismay at Ms Rudd’s plans, saying the UK is already suffering from existing restrictions on high-skilled migration.

“At a time when we need strong links globally to seize new opportunities after the [Brexit] referendum, being seen as open to the best and brightest is vital,” said Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the CBI employers’ organisation. “And we should be clear that business does not see immigration and training as an either/or choice. We need both.” Ms Rudd was careful to note that immigration enhanced Britain’s “economy, society and culture”. But she insisted too many people were coming to the UK and more work was needed to ensure only the “brightest and best” were allowed in from beyond Europe. The home secretary also expressed concern that under current rules, all foreign students, “irrespective of their talents and the university’s quality”, benefit from favourable employment prospects in the UK.

“We need to look at whether this one-size-fits-all approach really is right for the hundreds of different universities, providing thousands of different courses across the country,” she said. “And we need to look at whether this generous offer for all universities is really adding value to our economy.” Ms Rudd said she would consider whether student migration rules should take into account the quality of the course and the educational institution being applied to.

This idea was mooted a year ago by Nick Timothy, the prime minister’s chief of staff, who said there were only 70,000 foreign students at Russell Group universities compared with 113,000 at less prestigious universities and language colleges. One recurring criticism levelled by Home Office ministers is that some foreign students, even those studying English language degrees, are not proficient English speakers. Business leaders and university vice-chancellors have already complained that the existing visa rules make it harder for them to compete internationally. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of international students who came to the UK last year had dropped by 15 per cent since the previous year. Arrivals of students from the Indian subcontinent have been particularly badly hit.

Mr Hardie of the CBI said ministers should “tread carefully” on student immigration, arguing that many university courses were sustained by international student fees and talented staff from around the world.Seamus Nevin of the Institute of Directors warned that immigration would continue to be a “major bone of contention” between companies and this government.

“Staying on the current course will end up satisfying no one,” he said. “Net immigration will likely stay above 100,000, while firms and the public sector struggle to fill skills gaps, making it harder for them to navigate the uncertainty of the coming Brexit negotiations.”

Full story can be read here.

EU migration could drop to 30,000 WITHOUT hurting UK economy, say experts

A tough permit scheme should limit the number of EU workers into Britain after Brexit to 30,000 highly skilled people a year, say experts.The move would cut annual net migration from the EU – those arriving minus those leaving – by around 100,000, Migration Watch UK calculates.The think tank’s report does not back restricting European tourists, business visitors, students or retired people coming to the UK, nor recommend removing EU citizens already here.

But it believes its formula would support UK economic growth by ensuring British employers get the staff they need while putting the brakes on years of EU immigration.It estimates about a fifth of EU workers who arrived here in the last decade are in jobs that would qualify for the tough work permits.It is the first time Migration Watch has said how many EU workers it thinks the UK should admit.

It comprises the average of 25,000 people doing graduate level jobs or ones in areas where there is a shortage of people who have come to Britain from other EU countries each year since 2006, plus 5,000 to allow for growth.Alp Mehmet, Migration Watch UK vice-chairman, said: “A sensible limit on skilled EU migration would maintain the inflow of qualified EU workers who benefit our society and economy while allowing some room for expansion.”

Official figures last month showed net migration running at 327,000 a year, more than three times the Tory aim of under 100,000.Around 127,000 had no fixed job to come to. Net migration of EU citizens stood at 180,000 and some 77,000 Europeans intending to stay at least a year had no specific job lined up.

UK migration statistics show, Poland overtakes India as country of origin

Poland has overtaken India as the most common non-UK country of birth for people living in the UK, Office for National Statistics figures show.It comes as net migration estimates show it remains near record levels, at 327,000 for the year to March.

The figures – for the period before Britain voted to leave the EU – are down slightly on the previous year.Net migration is the difference between the number of people coming to the UK for at least a year and those leaving.There were an estimated 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 – a jump of almost 750,000 compared with the number in 2004, the year the country joined the EU. India and the Republic of Ireland have traditionally been the sources of the UK’s largest foreign-born groups.

The latest net migration figures show a slowdown in the numbers settling in the UK from Poland and seven other former Eastern bloc countries – but that was offset by an increase in net migration from Bulgaria and Romania, which hit record levels of 60,000. The influx of Romanians and Bulgarians has also reached a new high, although that’s off-set by falls in non-EU immigration and from other central and eastern European countries. Work remains the main reason for migration, followed by study which has seen a significant fall in the number of people coming to the UK for education. It’s important to remember that these figures only go up to the end of March and do not cover the period following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

UK’s population continued to increase between 2014 and 2015, driven by “significant increases in both the non-UK born and non-British national population of the UK”.

ONS estimates show 13.3% of the usually resident population of the UK were born abroad, compared with 8.9% in 2004. The region with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents, at 37%, is London. More than 25% of births in England and Wales in 2015 were to women born outside the UK, the highest level on record, according to separate figures.

ONS stated: “The rising percentage of births to women born outside the UK is largely due to foreign born women making up an increasing share of the female population of childbearing age in England and Wales. Part of the reason for this is that migrants are more likely to be working-age adults rather than children or older people. Alongside their increasing share of the population, higher fertility among women born outside the UK has also had an impact.”