In addition to its scrutiny of human rights implications of Government Bills, the Committee reports on other legislative measures raising significant human rights issues such as the Changes in Immigration Rules introduced in 2006.
In the Committee’s view, the effect of the changes on those who came to the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) of 2002 raises a significant human rights issue about compatibility with the right to respect for home and family life (paragraphs 1 -4).
HSMP provides a route to becoming permanently resident in the UK. Migrants under it must meet certain requirements and «intend to make their main home» in the UK. Since 2002, over 49000 applications under HSMP have been granted (paragraphs 5 - 12).
The changes to the Immigration Rules apply to those already granted leave to remain under the HSMP. The Committee notes the HSMP Forum’s view that as many as 90% of those admitted under HSMP may not now be able under the new rules to stay when their leave to remain expires (paragraphs 13 - 26).
The Committee concludes that the changes to the HSMP are clearly not compatible with the right to respect for home and family life under Article 8 ECHR and contrary to basic notions of fairness. It recommends that the Immigration Rules should be amended so that the changes apply only prospectively, that is to future applicants to the HSMP, and that those already granted leave to remain under HSMP when the relevant changes took effect should be treated according to the rules which applied before those changes (paragraphs 27 - 51).
The Committee recommends acceptance by the Government that it does not have unfettered power to make changes to the Immigration Rules which engage Convention rights and would interfere with a right, that such changes should be prospective only, and that changes to the Immigration Rules should always be accompanied by a statement as to their compatibility with the ECHR (paragraphs 52 -56).
Source : Joint Committee On Human Rights
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