Press release

New measures to tighten up the immigration system

David Cameron and Theresa May have announced changes to universities and colleges seeking sponsor status and European migrants' benefits.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Immigration officers explain their roles to David Cameron and Theresa May.

A new crackdown on immigration abuses was announced today by the Prime Minister and the 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.

Immigration officers explain their roles to David Cameron and Theresa May.

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 the 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.

The 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.

Notes to editors

  1. Since 1 January 2014 the government has introduced a number of new measures to limit access to benefits for EU nationals and we have introduced new powers to tackle fraud and abuse. These measures are expected to save the UK taxpayer £500 million over the next 5 years: * a new minimum 3 month delay before an EU jobseeker can claim benefits and a 6 month time-limit on Jobseekers Allowance unless the EU jobseeker can show they have clear prospects of an imminent job start * if the EU national claims to be in work or to have recently been working we’ll apply a new Minimum Earnings Threshold of £153 per week to help decide whether the work can be treated as meaningful and effective * since 1 April EU jobseekers are also no longer able to claim Housing Benefit * on 31 Dec 2013 DCLG issued new statutory guidance to make sure local authorities set a residency requirement for qualification for social housing * HMRC have introduced increased compliance checks in respect of child benefit and child tax credit payments to EEA nationals * on 1 July HMRC also introduced a similar 3 month delay before an economically inactive EU national can claim child benefit and child tax credit * there is also a stronger gateway test (the Habitual Residence Test) which all migrants must satisfy in order to access benefits * EU nationals who are removed from the UK for not exercising Treaty rights, for example for begging or rough sleeping, will be unable to re-enter the UK for 12 months (following removal) unless they have a valid reason to be here

  2. For full details of Immigration Act measures commenced today visit: * The Immigration Act 2014 (Commencement No. 1, Transitory and Saving Provisions) Order 2014
    * The Immigration Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2014 * The Immigration Act 2014 (Specified Anti-fraud Organisation) Order 2014

Published 29 July 2014