The Immigration Act 2014

Provisions covering UK residence requirements for the granting of driving licences and the monitoring of migrants’ UK bank accounts came into force on 14 July 2014.

Residence requirements for the opening of bank accounts and proposals to charge certain categories of immigrants for access to the NHS are yet to come into effect.

Granting of UK Driving Licences: Residence Requirement

There is now a requirement of lawful residence for anyone applying for a UK driving licence. There are different requirements depending on the type of licence applied for:

  1. A Community licence (a collective term for UK and EEA National driving licences): the applicant must be lawfully resident in the UK and must either be normally resident in the UK or have been attending a course of study in the UK during the period of 6 months ending on that date.
  2. An Exchangeable licence: the applicant must be normally and lawfully resident in Great Britain.
  3. A Provisional licence: the applicant must be resident in Great Britain and will remain so for not less than 185 days.

Note: a person is lawfully resident in Great Britain or the United Kingdom if he has valid leave to enter or leave to remain.

The Act provides that where the licence holder is not lawfully resident in the UK, then their driving licence and counterpart may be revoked.

UK Banking

The Act provides an outline of the arrangements which may be made by the Treasury to enable the Financial Conduct Authority to monitor the opening of UK bank accounts by migrants and enforce compliance with immigration law.

The Act also provides a requirement for opening a bank account in the UK: the individual must be in the UK and if required to have leave to enter or leave to remain, then must do so in order to open a bank account.  This is not yet in force.

National Health Service (NHS) charges

The Act will also introduce healthcare surcharges for certain UK migrants. The specific details as to who will be affected, how much it will cost and when it will be implemented have not yet been published.

Temporary Migrants

The intention is that all non-British/non-EEA Nationals who wish to come to the UK temporarily either to work, study or be with their family members for more than six months will be required to pay an annual levy for access to the National Health Service for each year of their proposed stay. This fee will be payable at the point when they apply for their visa. The EEA covers all EU countries and also Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

This will not affect migrants already in the UK (however they will need to pay the fee for any future applications made).

This also does not affect applicants with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK (UK Permanent Residency), as they enjoy the same benefits as British citizens.

The Cost

No fee has yet been set. The government has proposed that the majority of migrants will pay £200 and students will pay £150, payable in advance for each year of their proposed stay. For example, if an individual is coming to work in the UK for five years with his dependant wife, then they will need to pay £2,000 at the point of visa application.

Enforcement Date

The intention is to impose the levy to all new visa applications from autumn 2014.

Visitor Charges

The government intends to charge non-EEA visitors for Accident and Emergency, however urgent care in A&E will not be withheld because a person is unable to pay. They will be treated and billed. It remains to be seen how successful the NHS is in recouping the fees billed.

There is also an intention to charge for NHS services outside hospitals such as community, dental, optical and pharmaceutical services.  However, initial GP and nurse consultations will remain free to all, as will treatment for certain infectious diseases such as TB and HIV.

Amy Sarraff