You may be aware from press coverage and our recent blog post that foreign or Commonwealth citizens who have served in the HM Forces face difficulty applying for settlement in the UK if they have committed a minor offence. The Secretary of State has recently responded to calls for a change to current immigration laws by introducing a new route to settlement for such individuals.
From 13 December 2012, a foreign or Commonwealth citizen who has been discharged from HM Forces and who would otherwise meet the criteria for settlement but has either been recently imprisoned for less than 12 months or received an out-of-court disposal (such as a non-custodial sentence) may be eligible to apply for limited leave to remain. The aim of this route is to allow former members of HM Forces to reside in the UK while their conviction becomes ‘spent’ under the new immigration rules relating to criminality. Once spent, the individual may have the opportunity to apply for settlement.
Statement of Changes: the impact of criminal convictions on visa applications in 2013 26 November 2012 On 1 January 2013, following on from the passing of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and the latest Statement of Changes, significant changes to the Immigration Rules will come into force. These will alter the impact of criminal convictions on immigrants’ ability to enter and remain in the UK. When the latest Statement of Changes comes into force immigration officers will be told to refuse certain applications where the applicant has been sentenced to at least four years in prison. Applicants who have been given a lesser sentence may also be subject to an ‘automatic refusal’, depending on the date of conviction. In addition, the Secretary of State has explicitly reserved the right to refuse entry clearance or leave to remain applications if any criminal offences have been committed at any time in the applicant’s history. The rules suggest that this discretion will only be exercised when the applicant is a persistent offender, has received a non-custodial sentence in the past year, or has committed offences in the past deemed to be serious.