The Immigration Act 2016 was signed by Her Majesty the Queen on 12 May 2016. Some sections of the Act came into effect immediately but most sections were dependent on being brought into force by commencement orders at the discretion of the Minister. We have seen one commencement order so far, which has already been amended to correct a significant drafting error. So, what is in force?
The Act itself specifies that subsections (3) to (5) of section 61 (regarding powers of detention) came into force on the day the Act became law, which was 12 May 2016.
The Act also specified that section 85 (the powers to set the immigration skills charge) came into effect on 12 July 2016. At the time of writing, the immigration skills charge had not actually been imposed, though, and was not expected until April 2017.
We then had the Immigration Act 2016 (Commencement No. 1) Regulations 2016 SI 2016 No.603. This brought into force some sections on 31 May 2016 and some on 12 July 2016.
The provisions coming into force on 31 May 2016 were as follows:
(a) section 67 (unaccompanied refugee children);
(b) sections 69 to 72 (transfer of responsibility for relevant children);
(c) section 75 (maritime enforcement); and
(d) Schedule 14 (maritime enforcement).
The latest on these sections is that nothing at all seems to have happened on section 67 (relocating refugee children from Europe) but under sections 69 to 72 the Government has launched a voluntary transfer scheme for local authorities, which has previously been covered on the blog. Section 75 with Schedule 14 on maritime enforcement expand enforcement powers at sea, amend criminal offences connected to facilitation unlawful entry to the UK so that they include attempts to facilitate unlawful entry and massive expand the enforcement powers of immigration and enforcement officers at sea.
The first commencement order also provided that the following sections would come into force on 12 July 2016:
(a) sections 1 to 9 (Director of Labour Market Enforcement);
(b) sections 10 to 13 (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority);
(c) section 25 (code of practice);
(d) sections 31 to 33 (supplementary provision);
(e) section 34 (offence of illegal working);
(f) section 35 (offence of employing illegal worker);
(g) sections 46 to 53 (powers of immigration officers etc.);
(h) section 55 (supply of information to Secretary of State);
(i) section 56 (detention etc. by immigration officers in Scotland);
(j) section 57 (powers to take fingerprints etc. from dependants);
(k) section 58 (interpretation of Part 3);
(l) section 59 (guidance on detention of vulnerable persons);
(m) section 60 (limitation on detention of pregnant women);
(n) section 76 (persons excluded from the United Kingdom under international obligations);
(o) section 86 (power to make passport fees regulations);
(p) section 87 (passport fees regulations: supplemental);
(q) section 88 (power to charge for passport validation services);
(r) section 89 (civil registration fees);
(s) Schedule 1 (persons to whom Director etc. may disclose information);
(t) Schedule 2 (functions in relation to labour market);
(u) Schedule 3 (consequential and related amendments);
(v) Schedule 9 (duty to supply nationality documents to Secretary of State: persons to whom duty applies); and
(w) Schedule 15 (civil registration fees).
Some of these sections represent important immediate developments, including the offence of illegal working and the expansion of the offence of employing an illegal worker, enforcement powers for immigration officials and the limit on the detention of pregnant women. Many of the other provisions are enabling powers that have not yet been used; regulations will follow which will properly implement them. For example, the Director of Labour Market Enforcement can be appointed but has not been, and new passport and civil registration fees can be charged but have not yet been.
The first commencement order was followed by the Immigration Act 2016 (Transitional Provision) Regulations, SI 2016 No.712. In essence, this corrected a drafting error in the first commencement order, which if left uncorrected would have caused any person on temporary admission with permission to work to be working illegally as of 12 July 2016.
The Home Office has also been churning out reams of related guidance and updated factsheets. The factsheet collection can be found here. Updated and new guidance is too extensive to set out here but I have included relevant links in the ebook.