Louis MacWilliam – The Basics of Immigration Law 2019-11-15T11:17:43+00:00

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louis macwilliam - head of immigration

Time Stamped Show Notes:

21s: Louis MacWilliam is the head of immigration at Blacks Solicitors.

1min 11s: I came into immigration law fairly late in life. I did a masters degree in human rights which set me off on the path of assisting asylum seekers as a paralegal at an NGO in Bradford. Legal Aid cuts kicked in around 2012 so I moved down to London where I completed my training contract at Bindmans. I was taken on as a solicitor there but then moved back up to Leeds. I heard Blacks wanted to start an immigration team, so I started on April 30th last year.

2mins 27s: Do you have the Legal Aid offering for immigration law? Blacks no longer do Legal Aid as it’s not financially viable. The areas Legal Aid covers is asylum, victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.

3mins 29s: What is the difference between a refugee, a migrant, asylum seeker etc? An immigrant is anyone from outside the UK, within that there are subcategories. An asylum seeker is someone claiming their life is in danger in their home country, if their claim is accepted, they are recognised as a refugee. There is economic migration, so you have people coming here to work. If they are coming outside of the EU, they need to be sponsored by an employer with a sponsor licence. If they are in the EU, they come under free movement provisions and can start employment straight away. Students who come here to study can only work 20 hours during the week during the term time or 40 hours during the summer time. Illegal immigrants are those who have no lawful basis of staying in the UK, so they might’ve entered the UK legally and didn’t regularise their position or they’ve overstayed their visa.

5mins 35s: Can asylum seekers and refugees work here? There are limited circumstances when an asylum seeker can work. 1) There has to be a delay on their asylum claim which I think has to be more than a year and 2) the job has to be on the shortage occupation list. This is a list of jobs which there is a huge shortage of like engineers, doctors and nurses. Not many people will fit this so not many are able to work.

7mins 46s: The new immigration bill went through the second reading that Jess Phillips was talking about. Free movement will end when Britain leaves the EU officially, it will continue until December 2020 provided there’s a deal. The new immigration model will then kick in. EU nationals will then need to be sponsored as well and there will be a minimum salary threshold, Teresa May wants it to be £30,000. That will knock out ¾ of the working population.

9mins 31s: If the deal is successful, free movement will be preserved until December 2020 so EU nationals can still come to live in the UK, all they need to do is register under this EU settlement scheme.

11mins 7s: All EU nationals, regardless if they have permanent residence documents. Everyone has to register under the EU settlement scheme. You need to register by June 2020. The cost was going to be £65 but as part of the Brexit negotiations, Teresa May dropped the £65 fee so it is now free.

12mins 57s: What happens if they don’t register? They won’t be here on a lawful basis and they will be overstaying which is a criminal offence. It can be fatal to your ability to stay in the UK long-term.

14mins 29s: The law is changing almost weekly, should people instruct you now? The immigration position had been settled regarding citizen’s rights. Now is a good time to be preparing for Brexit and securing your status and start taking advice on how Brexit will affect your business.

16mins 1s: What should employers be doing right now? If you have EU nationals working with you, you need to be getting familiar with the EU settlement scheme. It is the responsibility of the migrant to register but it can become your problem if your employee doesn’t register. If your employee isn’t here on a lawful basis, you can fall foul of the prevention of illegal working regime. An employer who is found to be employing an illegal migrant, can face a fine of up to £20,000 per migrant. As long as EU nationals comply with the scheme, they can continue to work here, and they get indefinite leave after 5 years.

18mins 11s: What about landlords? You have to be undertaking checks to ensure your tenants have the right to reside in the UK so checking ID like employers do. The implications are the same, if you have an EU national that isn’t registered then this can be problematic for a landlord too.

18mins 59s: Any tips or websites on immigration? The home office sends out regular updates on Brexit where you can sign up at UKVI and the EU settlement scheme sends regular updates. There is a website called www.freemovement.org.uk which has several blogs coming out daily.

20mins 21s: EU nationals wondering what to do next: The position is fine as long as you register under the scheme. If their long-term future is in the UK, they might want to apply for British citizenship sooner rather than later. The cost of becoming British has increased from £600 to £1400 which goes up every year.

22mins 55s: How do people contact you? Call me or email me, I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn. On Blacks website there are seminars as well.