Visa extension to boost numbers of overseas students in UK after Brexit

International students are to be given visa extensions of up to a year to look for work in the UK as part of a package of government measures to increase numbers of overseas students after Brexit.

The move represents a break with current policy, where students are allowed to stay for just four months after graduation.

Announcing the strategy, the Department for Education (DfE) said, “There is no limit on the number of international students that can study in the UK, and to ensure the UK continues to attract and welcome them, the post-study leave period will be extended to six months for undergraduate and master’s students, and a year for doctoral students.”

The announcement said the government would also consider “how the visa process could be improved for applicants and supporting student employment”, hinting at another possible change in policy.

Home Office to amend registration rules for vulnerable EU citizens

The Home Office reached an out-of-court settlement with the charity The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) who had threatened a judicial review over the registration system for EU citizens.

JCWI agreed to drop its application for a judicial review after Sajid Javid’s department made changes to its guidance to caseworkers in relation to vulnerable citizens.

The Public Law Project, acting on behalf of the JCWI, said, “Following key concessions to the claim by the home secretary, JCWI have today withdrawn their claim.”

It said the agreement would have implications for hundreds of thousands of citizens nervous about their status because they were elderly, a carer, a stay-at-home parent, mentally ill, a student, homeless or out of work through no fault of their own.

As part of the settlement, the government has unequivocally confirmed it will not refuse settled status to anyone who is “economically inactive”, works part-time or lacks private health insurance.

The government has also amended rules that would have allowed Home Office caseworkers to refuse settled status to EU citizens who had previously been served with a removal notice.

Plan to simplify UK’s 1,100 pages of immigration rules

The Law Commission are proposing a shakeup of immigration rules in order to make them easier to understand.

The aim is to simplify the current 1,100 pages of regulations.

The proposals include an audit of overlapping rules and a limit to the number of times a year the rules are changed.

The Law Commission believes simpler rules would increase transparency for applicants and lead to quicker decision-making by Home Office caseworkers.

Since their introduction in 1973, the rules have grown from 40 pages to 1,100.

The law commissioner for public law, Nicholas Paines QC, said, “As the immigration rules have become longer, more detailed and more specific, they’ve also become more complicated and harder to follow for applicants.

“The Home Office has asked us to help put things right. Our proposals would introduce clearer language, and improve the presentation of the rules so they’re easier to understand and follow.

“We seek the public’s views on how to make the immigration rules simpler and more accessible.”

 

 

 

Woman found guilty of benefit fraud

A woman has been found guilty of dishonestly claiming almost £10,000.

Jane Prentice, 50, who claimed to be a single parent on a low income, with three children, was prosecuted after falsely claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support from Swale council between August 2016 and December 2017.

However, an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions found she was living with a man and had been overpaid £9,194.68.

Prentice pleaded guilty at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court and was ordered to pay £220 in costs and victim payments.

Prentice will also have to pay back the benefits she was not entitled to and will undergo a year-long community order, 15-day rehabilitation course and complete 140 hours of unpaid work.

Woman who dishonestly claimed more than £18,000 avoids jail

A woman who dishonestly claimed more than £18,000 of employment support allowance has avoided jail.

Sharron Ensor from Rawmarsh admitted fraud by false representation and was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court.

Ensor claimed she was single and received £18,462 in employment support allowance from Barnsley Benefit Centre.

Judge Robert Kelson sentenced Ensor to three months in prison suspended for two years and she was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Carer forced to sell home or face jail to repay benefits

A man who is a carer for his 37-year-old son is being forced to sell his home or face jail because he wrongly received benefits that cost the taxpayer less than £110.

George Henderson, 59, has cared all his life without payment for his son who has mental health problems and is addicted to heroin.

In August 2010, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) official visited to ensure his son was getting the right benefits.

George then asked whether he could claim carer’s allowance.

Subsequently, the Department for Work and Pensions failed to notice that George was paying tax on his earnings and had received £19,500 carer’s allowance for more than six years.

However, he was prosecuted for fraud over a mistake that cost just 30p a week. George, who pleaded not guilty, said,

“As far as I was concerned, I never done anything wrong. I don’t owe the DWP a penny. They took it off my son, gave it to me, who gave it back to my son as caring for him.

“So the money that came off my son is the same amount of money as the DWP are actually trying to take back off me.”

At his trial at Preston Crown Court, George was found guilty of fraud and was fined, given a 32-week suspended sentence and electronically tagged.

Last month, the DWP used the Proceeds of Crime Act to force George to sell his home and pay back all £20,900 of overpaid carer’s allowance plus fines.

 

 

Man denies £33k disability benefits fraud

A man has been charged of fraudulently claiming more than £33,000 in disability benefits over nearly six years.

Lorenzo Armas, 51, denies knowingly failing to notify benefit bosses of a change to his entitlement for disability living allowance between February 15 2012 and January 2 this year.

Armas is alleged to have claimed a total of £33,860.25 fraudulently.

Armas failed to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of the cash and about improvements to his physical condition.

A trial date has been set at Dundee Sheriff Court for February 22, 2019.

 

Husband fined for Blue Badge fraud

A man has been fined after he was found to be using his wife’s Blue Badge for his own benefit.

James Mason initially claimed that he had dropped his wife off at an appointment but later admitted that he had lied.

Blue Badges allow a disabled person to park closer to their home or destination, and can only be displayed by another person if the badge holder is present and is being dropped off or collected.

Mr Mason pleaded guilty by post and at Luton Magistrates’ court he was sentenced and ordered to pay fines totalling £510 due to the breach of Section 117(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

 

‘Disabled’ magistrate in £26k benefit fraud

A “deceitful” former magistrate has been jailed after she lied about her mobility to cheat the benefits system out of more than £26,000.

Sandra Howell, 43, fraudulently claimed the benefits while working as a domestic cleaner in Greater Manchester.

The former Stockport magistrate was brought into court in a wheelchair, but footage was played to the jury showing her walking across the court precincts.

CCTV surveillance footage also showed her walking around at the Trafford Centre shopping mall, faster than other shoppers and also working on her driveway.

Howell was convicted of two fraud offences following a trial and was jailed for nine months at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, said,

“You were administering the law, presiding over cases and sitting in judgement on those before you, no doubt on occasions having to determine whether the evidence was so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence could be justified.

“No doubt on occasions having defendants in front of you charged with offences for which you now fall to be sentenced.

“During much of that time while you were supposedly administering the law you were breaking the law, repeatedly committing criminal acts by defrauding the state.

“You were stealing from the state. Between February 2013 and October 2016 you were paid higher rate Disability Living Allowance and received £26,539, money that you were not entitled to.”

 

Benefits cheat claims she’s ‘unfit’ to do community service

A benefits cheat who falsely £78,000 claims she is ‘unfit’ to complete her community service.

 

Kathryn Leathard, 30, pretended to be a single mum for five years in order to get tax credits, income support, council tax benefit and housing benefit.

 

However, authorities found she had been living with her partner.

 

Leathard admitted three benefit fraud charges in November last year.

 

The mother-of-three, of Prudhoe was given a suspended 12-month jail term and was ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work.

 

Leathard, however, says she has been assessed as ‘unfit for work.’

 

Furthermore, she did not attend court claiming she was ‘too anxious.’

Sentencing her, Judge Stephen Earl said, “Let’s be clear – this is public money you defrauded the Government and the public out of.”