Shortly before jetting off on their summer holidays, Parliament passed a new law, called the Immigration Act 2014, which aims to make it increasingly difficult to live in the UK without legal status.
An understandable aim, but the way in which the Government has gone about it is perhaps less commendable. The onus on keeping track of foreign nationals is shifting from the police and immigration services towards ordinary people, who happen to come into contact with foreign nationals as part of their job.
Previous rule changes have already meant that employers, universities and colleges have increasingly had the burden placed upon them of preventing fraudulent entry into the UK and illegal working. Now bank employees, private landlords and registrars face significant punishments if they fail to toe the line.
There is of course a place for proper checks being done before someone opens a bank account or rents a flat, but some of the issues for which people can face persecution are less justifiable.
Guidance has been issued to registrars as to where a marriage should be regarded as suspicious, which include where one or both parties; “Is of a nationality at high risk of involvement in a sham” or ” holds leave which is due to expire shortly”. This will mean registrars having to report people for possible sham marriages based on where they come from, and for having whirlwind romances.
Similarly Landlords, following employers, are expected to become familiar with the intricacies of Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971.
Not something you know? Sounds complicated? It can be, so the easier thing is to not rent to or employ anyone not British. That amounts to discrimination of course, which is also illegal, but easier to argue against.
It will be interesting to see how the new laws work, or fail to work, in practice, but if you fall into any of the categories affected, we’re happy to make sure you don’t fall foul of these requirements.
This article was written by Ben Davison, Immigration Solicitor at Ison Harrison Solicitors. If you would like to know more please do not hesitate to contact us.