The Conservative victory in the General Election on 7 May means that we can “look forward” to a number of developments in immigration law. Here are a few of the headline issues:
1. The Human Rights Act
The new Government has moved quickly to confirm that new justice Minister Michael Gove will be overseeing manifesto plans to repeal the Human Rights Act. The Conservatives prefer a "British Bill of Rights" instead.
Although scrapping the Human Rights Act cuts off the ability of applicants to rely directly on the European Convention on Human Rights in UK courts and tribunals, the option of a final appeal to the Court of Human Rights would remain as long as the UK remains a signatory to the ECHR.
The prescriptive approach to Article 8 rights in the Immigration Act 2014 (setting out when certain government actions will be “in the public interest”, or “reasonable” or “proportionate”) could well be a warning of the kind of “rights” we might expect.
2. European free movement
David Cameron believes the Conservative majority will give him bargaining power in making changes to the UK’s relationship with the European Union
The election revealed the extent to which the principle of free movement has affected the debate about immigration in general, and we should expect to see some attempts to cut further the ways in which European nationals are allowed to exercise their rights to live and work in the UK.
3. “Borders Everywhere”: the right to rent scheme
A report is due at the end of the month on the pilot of the "Right to Rent" scheme, requiring private landlords to act as de facto immigration officials.
Following the result of the election, it seems likely that the scheme will be rolled out nationwide during the year, making ordinary life more difficult for people with irregular or unresolved immigration status.
It is planned to end the system that permits immigration Tribunal appellants to remain in the UK while their appeals are heard for all except asylum claimants. This could have profound effects in Article 8 cases, and is likely to generate an increase in applications for Judicial Review to avert removals.
However, many potential appellants are likely simply to take their chances with a fresh application from overseas, with potentially damaging effects on family unity and children's access to their parents.
If you are affected by any of these issues, or if you have an immigration law enquiry, contact Kitty Falls