The nuts and bolts of immigration law

Immigration Law – Immigration

Immigration is movement of people from country onto another for the purposes of residing there. There are many reasons why an individual may choose to migrate to another country; economic reasons such as to achieve a higher standard of living, political reasons, religious reasons or personal reasons such as reuniting a family or the wish to change one’s life.

There are presently around 200 million immigrants in the world, with the majority making the move into Europe and the United States. A 2009 poll for Gallup showed that around another 700 million adults globally would immigrate if they had the chance.  Immigration in the UK has been rising since 2000 and now accounts for around 12% of the population. The largest group has been individuals and families from the republic of Ireland (as it has been for the last 200 years), as well as people from Pakistan, India and Somalia.

There are a number of pieces of legislation that govern UK immigration law. The UK Borders Act 2007 introduced greater powers for immigration control such as the authority for officials such as detention, search and seizure and entry.  Under the provisions of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, individuals who had been a resident of the UK for 5 years were automatically granted probationary citizenship. These acts built upon the foundations provided by the Immigration Act 1971, which first presented an unconditional right of anyone to live and work in the UK.

UK immigration rules differ depending upon whether the immigrant in question is coming from the EU or from outside of the EU. For EU nationals travelling from one EU member state to another, there is considered to be unconditional freedom of movement and no permission needed. The only time this does not apply is if the immigrant in question is from one of the newer members of the EU (referred to A8 countries) such as Lithuania or Slovakia. These individuals may have to advise the Worker Registration scheme in the UK as well as registering with the Border Agency. Immigrants from newer member states such as Bulgaria may have to apply for authorisation from the UK Border Agency to enter the UK.

For immigration that originates from outside the EU and outside Switzerland, the UK Border Agency operates a points-based system. After this system was introduced in 2008 there were officially 4 tiers of workers who could enter the UK:

  • Highly skilled workers were classified as being Tier 1
  • Skilled workers who had already received the offer of employment were classified as Tier 2
  • Tier 3 workers were workers with low skills who will fill temporary labour shortages
  • Students were classified as being Tier 4

Immigration is important to the UK economy as it provides skilled individuals from around the world. But Immigration is also a tricky balancing act as it can cause unemployment and resentment among the domestic population.

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