Beware of new immigration law: Visa overstayers and illegal entrants face more stringent punishment in UK
By A Staff Reporter LONDON May 22: The Nationality and Borders Bill got passed into law in April 2022 following months of debate. The Borders Bill will allow Home Office to hand out tougher sentences and enhance Border Force’s power to pursue the organised criminal gangs behind these dangerous journeys. First debated in Parliament in July 2021, the Bill was voted through by MPs in April 2022 and received royal assent despite strong resistance from campaigners. The Nationality and Borders Act will deter illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people-smuggling networks, and speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK. This will in turn free up the asylum system so Home Office can better support those in genuine need of asylum through safe and legal routes, says a government notification. In addition, the act puts into law that those who arrive illegally in the UK – who could have claimed asylum in another safe country – can be considered as ‘inadmissible’ to the UK asylum system. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "This is a huge milestone in our commitment to our promise to the British public - a fair but firm immigration system. While there is no single solution to the global migration crisis, these new laws are the first step in overhauling our decades-old, broken asylum system. We will now work tirelessly to deliver these reforms to ensure we have an immigration system that protects those in genuine need while cracking down on abuse of the system and evil people-smuggling gangs". These key reforms will be operating alongside a raft of other new measures, including: Tougher penalties for people smugglers with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment Increasing the maximum penalty for illegally entering the UK or overstaying a visa to 4 years’ imprisonment New measures to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges which can be used to frustrate removal of those with no right to be in the UK Cracking down on adults pretending to be children by introducing scientific methods for age assessment A new US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme to slam the door on criminals before they even get here Officers, prosecutors, caseworkers and judges will be able to make full use of these new powers from the summer once new guidance and training is rolled out. Other measures include: “Cracking down on adults pretending to be children by introducing scientific methods for age assessment, a new US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme to slam the door on criminals before they even get here, and new measures to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges which can be used to frustrate removal of those with no right to be in the UK.” Officers, prosecutors, caseworkers and judges will be able to make full use of these new powers from the summer once new guidance and training is rolled out. Following the vote in Parliament, charities, including the Kent Refugee Action Network, have shared their concerns and anger as the bill will affect thousands of people trying to settle in the UK. KRAN reacted on Twitter: “The government succeeded in forcing through the Nationality and Borders Bill. Everyone working in the refugee sector has been united in pushing back but we failed. This isn’t the end though - kindness and decency will ultimately prevail. We are absolutely sure of it.” The Law society also raised concerns saying a number of the act’s measures are or are likely to “be incompatible with international law, damage access to justice, and negatively impact on the role of lawyers in immigration cases.” In response to the passing of the Bill, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Twitter: "UNHCR regrets that final amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill were rejected. The Bill will now become law. The new law undermines established international refugee protection laws and practices and risks causing very real suffering to vulnerable people."