Not that you would have noticed since the media is wall to wall coverage with "Hackgate" ( I am so over it personally), but there have been two rather interesting news pieces regarding immigration in the last week.
It started with the UKBA's consultation on family migration which laid out suggestions (only suggestions at this point) for some changes to the family migration path (spouse visas, family visitor visas, dependent children, elderly depenedent visas, etc). The document is wordy, but you really should read it. The following suggestions stood out the most to me:
1. The creation of something that resembles a UK Bill of Rights which will superceed ECHR article 8. The consultation reads: This government believes in human rights. Everyone has a right under ECHR Article 8 to respect for their private and family life, but it is not an absolute right. It is legitimate to interfere with the exercise of that right where it is in the public interest to do so, and in particular where it is necessary for public protection or for the economic well-being of the UK, which includes maintaining our immigration controls.
2. The consulation also appears to suggest that the maintance requirements will be increased and that the sponsor in the UK shall not be reliant on public funds. Family migrants must have access to enough money to support themselves, without their British citizen or UK-resident spouse or partner seeking, or needing, help from the taxpayer. We do not want to see migrant families struggling to get by, living in overcrowded housing or dependent on welfare. If as a British citizen or a person settled here, you cannot support your foreign spouse or partner in a reasonable way of life in the UK, you cannot expect the taxpayer to do so for you. This consultation paper sets out how we propose to change the maintenance and other requirements for those sponsoring a spouse or partner to ensure that this is so.
It goes on to quote the maintenance requirements for other countries including Denmark which says that all sponsors be able to maintain spouse and the sponsor cannot have claimed benefits in the three years prior to a marriage application. But the Danes don't stop there - the sponsor must also post a bond of around £12,000(!) against any future claim on public funds.
3. There is also a suggestion to extend the probationary period before spouses and partners can apply for settlement (ILR) to five years. I have to say that eventhough I am just about two weeks away from being able to apply for my ILR, I totally agree with this suggestion. In the instance of a sham marriage or "marriage of convenience", two years is not long enough to test the genuiness of the relationship. Nor, in my opinion, is two years long enough to have "earned" access to all state benefits (especially if the migrant has never worked in the UK). The consulation futher explains: Access to the labour market, to the NHS (including maternity services) and to schooling will be unaffected by this change. Family migrants in work will continue to have access to contributory benefits (for example contribution-based jobseeker‟s allowance, statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance and widow's benefit) once they have made at least 2 years National Insurance contributions, and the entitlement of the spouse or partner who is a British citizen or is settled here to child benefit and child tax credit will be unaffected.
4. In the instance of a spouse visa, the couple should be in a relationship for at least 12 months before applying and the applicant should have an "attachment" to the UK. Where the couple cannot meet this criterion, for example because theirs is or will be an arranged marriage and they have not yet been together as a couple for that period, we could grant 12 months‟ initial temporary leave to enable them to meet this criterion, and ask them to apply for further leave after 12 months. This would enable a further assessment to be made at that point of whether theirs is a genuine and continuing relationship. The document again quotes the Danish system re: the "attachemnt critera": In order to meet the attachment requirement, the applicant for a marriage visa must have visited Denmark at least twice and the sponsor must have resided legally in Denmark for 15 years. The attachment requirement is not applicable if either party has held Danish citizenship or resided legally in Denmark for at least 28 years.
I won't bother too much with my own opinion since it matters very little, but bravo, UKBA, bravo.
In other news: An American woman apparently thought it was ok for her to come to the UK on a visitors visa, settle permanently and start a family and is now arguing that she should be allowed to stay without ever being granted a settlement visa. Tragically, she lost her baby, which is very sad, but I am glad that the UKBA don't appear to be ready to allow her to use the baby's death as reason why she should be allowed to skip all the proper steps of immigration. I think she should consider herself lucky that all they are asking is that she return to the US to do things the proper way.
There.. now don't you feel very well informed? :)