Under the Immigration Act 2016, certain licence holders are now unable to hold a licence.  The provisions in the 2016 Act amend existing licensing regimes to prevent people without lawful immigration status and the right to work from holding a licence to drive a taxi, private hire car or a booking office licence in Scotland.

From January 2018, there is a statutory duty on Scottish licensing authorities to check the immigrations status of every licence holder before granting them a licence. This applies to new applications and applications for the renewal of a licence of the type referred to above.

The duty to check the immigration status applies to all licence holders irrespective of where they were born.

Who is disqualified from holding a licence?

A person is disqualified from holding an operator or a PHV or taxi driver licence by reason of their immigration status if:

  • the person requires leave to enter or remain in the UK and has not been granted it; or
  • the person’s leave to enter or remain in the UK
    • is invalid,
    • has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time, or otherwise), or
    • is subject to a condition preventing the person from doing work of that kind.

A person is also disqualified from holding a licence if they are subject to a condition on their permission to be in the UK preventing them from holding licence, for example, they are subject to an immigration restriction that does not permit them to work.

Limiting licence durations

The guidance accompanying the 2016 Act makes provision for limited duration licences to be issued by licensing authorities in Scotland in cases where the licence’s holders immigration status demands this.  The guidance states: “For those who have time-limited permission to be in the UK, the check must be repeated at each subsequent application to renew or extend the licence until such time as the applicant demonstrates that they are entitled to remain indefinitely in the UK, and as a result, there are no restrictions on their ability to work.”

Right of appeal

The normal right of appeal in relation to the refusal of a licence to drive a taxi, private hire car or booking office licence would apply.  On any however, the court is not entitled to consider whether the licence holder should have been convicted of an immigration offence or received an immigration penalty or should have been granted by the Home Office permission to be in the UK. This is because separate rights of immigration appeal, or to have an immigration decision administratively reviewed, exist.

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