In an email to ARIA, Stephen Seymour, Operations Director at the OISC advises that the Immigration Act 2014 makes some fundamental changes to the OISC’s regulatory scheme.
The first of the provisions is being implemented on 28 July 2014 which gives the Commissioner an explicit power to carry out inspections of the activities and businesses of registered persons.
We expect the remaining provisions to be implemented later in the year, probably October.
They are –
- The abolition of the concept of exemption by the Commissioner
This will mean that all OISC regulated organisations will become “registered”. Those previously “exempted” will have to apply for annual authorisation to give immigration advice and services. The way this will work is that upon implementation, all the currently exempted organisations will become “registered” automatically. However, we will need to get these organisations on an annual cycle of registration which we plan to achieve by 31 March 2015 at the latest.
Of course the “exempted” sector did not have to pay the OISC a fee for their application for regulation and we fully expect this to continue to be the case.
- Suspension of Registration
This provides that the Commissioner can apply to the First Tier Tribunal (Immigration Services) to suspend a person’s “registration” where they have been charged with an indictable offence, an offence involving dishonesty or deception or an offence under certain sections of the Immigration Act 1971. If the Tribunal agrees, the person will be suspended from providing immigration advice until either the person is acquitted, the charge or proceedings are dropped or withdrawn. Where the person is convicted, the suspension continues while the Commissioner considers whether that person is no longer competent or is otherwise unfit to provide immigration advice or services.
- Power of Entry
Previously the Commissioner could enter a regulated organisation’s premises without a warrant, but only to investigate a complaint. Additionally, she could only enter commercial premises. Under the new Act, the Commissioner can enter premises, including those used as a dwelling (if the person is operating from those premises), to carry out any of her functions. But to do so, she must get a warrant.
- Power to Cancel a person’s “registration”
This provides the Commissioner with a power to cancel a person’s “registration” (either an individual or an organisation) where they are no longer fit or competent. This can be at the conclusion of a complaint or at any time where there is evidence to support the cancellation. There is a right of appeal to the Tribunal against the Commissioner’s decision. Previously the Commissioner could withdraw the authorisation of an “exempted” organisation to operate (but not an individual adviser at that organisation) but could not remove a “registered” organisation (or adviser) other than refusing an application for continued registration.
The OISC are planning to issue a special newsletter, probably in September, providing more information to regulated organisations about the provisions and in particular how the conversion from exempted to registered will work for the not for profit organisations.
Does anyone have any questions or comments? If so, let us know and we will put these to the Commissioner.