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Home Office press release

Government Rejects amnesty calls

Published date : 1/10/2009
Government Rejects Amnesty Calls Thursday, 18 June 2009 Persistent rumours that the government may be considering an amnesty for illegal immigrants have been quashed. A spokesman for the UK Border Agency, in responding to a report published by the London School of Economics has said, 'The policy on an amnesty for illegal immigrants remains unchanged and is very clear - there will be no amnesty, those here illegally should go home." The LSE report had concluded that an amnesty for illegal migrants would benefit the United Kingdom economy by £3 billion.

New rules for HSMP.

Published date : 30/9/2009
UKBA has issued its response to the High Court ruling in the HSMP Forum (UK) Ltd case. On 6 April 2009, Mrs Justice Cox determined that individuals in the UK as highly skilled migrants prior to 3 April 2006 had been unfairly prejudiced by the change in the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) rules which increased the qualifying threshold from 4 years continuous residence to 5.

UKBA has now made provision for those individuals who held permission to remain in the UK under the old Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, (HSMP). Such individuals will now be entitled to either benefit from a quicker route to indefinite leave to remain or otherwise receive a refund for expenses which would not otherwise have been incurred.

Gurkas given settlement rights according to he new ruling

Published date : 27/08/209
All former Gurkhas who have served in the British Army for at least four years will now be eligible for settlement in the UK. Under the new policy, those Gurkhas who retired prior to 1 July 1997 after completing four years service can apply to settle in the United Kingdom with their spouses and dependent children.

The new policy refers specifically to those Gurkhas who retired before 1 July 1997 and who will now be granted settlement rights under the new scheme. Those who retired after 1 July 1997 are already eligible to apply for settlement under the current immigration rules.

Efficient Pakistan visa service

Published date : 08/10/2009
Latest news and updates
Home Secretary commits to providing an efficient Pakistan visa service
08 October 2009

The Home Office has made an announcement following the Home Secretary's visit to Pakistan.

A Home Office spokesman said:

'During his visit to Pakistan Home Secretary Alan Johnson assured the Pakistan Government that the UK Border Agency is committed to providing an efficient visa service to its customers and is working hard to reduce visa processing times. He said he recognised and regretted the distress that had been caused to legitimate applicants due to IT problems experienced during the summer. During his visit to Pakistan, Mr Johnson toured the UKBA offices in Islamabad and was reassured by staff that they will be able to reduce the waiting time for visa applications to 15 working days in November, in line with global customer service standards.

'We have introduced tough checks around the world for anyone applying for a visa to enter the UK, with applications checked for fraud and forgery, with individuals fingerprinted and checked against a range of watch-lists. We have also taken every step to ensure the rules are clear, with advice on the application process is available on our website.'

Asylum seekers - government response

Published date : 09/10/2009
Asylum seekers - government response
09 October 2009

The government has responded to claims in the media that up to 40,000 asylum seekers will be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom because it would be too difficult to return them to their home countries.

Phil Woolas, Border and Immigration Minister, said:

'There is no amnesty.

'Our guidelines were updated to provide case workers with a simple framework to judge cases, and to avoid long drawn out court battles.

'No lawbreaker will be allowed to say, and each case is still decided on its individual merits.

'The UK Border Agency continues to ramp up performance and is concluding several thousand cases a month.

'Less than 40% of cases are being granted and I am confident that we will clear all of these cases by 2011.'

Title : Changes to the asylum process

Published date : 13/10/2009
Changes to the asylum process
13 October 2009

The UK Border Agency has announced changes to the way it registers further submissions and initial in-country asylum applications.

From 14 October 2009, further submissions - where someone whose appeal rights have been exhausted asks to have their claim re-examined owing to a change in their circumstances - will have to be made in person rather than by post.

The following arrangements will be in place:

Those who claimed asylum before 5 March 2007, and whose case is being managed by our case resolution directorate, will be required to make any further submissions by appointment and in person at Liverpool further submissions unit (formerly the asylum screening unit).

Those who claimed asylum on or after 5 March 2007 will be required to make any further submissions in person at a specified reporting centre in their region.

In addition to these changes, it will no longer be possible for initial asylum applications to be made in Liverpool, and anyone wishing to make an initial asylum application in country will be required to do so in person at the asylum screening unit in Croydon.

Important changes for sponsors under the points-based system

Published date : 13/10/2009
Important changes for sponsors under the points-based system
05 October 2009

The UK Border Agency has today published revised guidance for employers and education providers who sponsor migrants under the points-based system, and has enabled education providers to use the sponsorship management system for the first time.

The sponsor guidance has now been split into separate documents for employers (Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system) and for education providers (Tier 4). Both guidance documents, together with a list of changes from the previous guidance, can be downloaded from the sponsor guidance page of this website.

Additionally, the sponsorship management system is now available to Tier 4 sponsors, enabling them to issue confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) for the first time. During a voluntary trial period which will run until February 2010, Tier 4 sponsors will be able to choose whether to issue visa letters or CAS to migrants applying to them from inside the United Kingdom. CAS will completely replace visa letters next February.

For more information about how Tier 4 sponsors can use the sponsorship management system, see the Tier 4 phase 3 news story.

Suspected international benefit fraud

Published date : 07/10/2009
Suspected international benefit fraud in Newcastle
07 October 2009

A suspected £750,000 benefit scam operating out of the Newcastle area has today (Wednesday 7 October) been uncovered in a UK Border Agency led operation with Northumbria police.

Today's activity was carried out at the request of the UK Border Agency as a result of an investigation by the North East immigration crime team. We are committed to supporting our partner agencies with operational assistance when they ask for it. Graham Smith, Chief Superintendent, Northumbria police

More than 80 officers targeted 20 addresses across Newcastle and Gateshead in a series of dawn raids. The operation resulted in the arrest of 12 men and women, aged from their late twenties to mid fifties, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.

Those arrested in the operation are now in police custody pending further investigations into these matters.

Officers believe the alleged scam was operated by an organised criminal gang which deliberately brought foreign nationals into the United Kingdom in an attempt to defraud the United Kingdom benefit system.

The operation was led by the UK Border Agency's North East immigration crime team which works closely with Northumbria police and other law enforcement agencies to tackle and prevent immigration crime.

Heading the UK Border Agency Regional immigration crime team, DI Graham Brown, said:

'The arrest of this group is a result of close collaboration between a number of partner agencies. My message is clear to those who seek to break the law in the North East, we now have a formidable team specialising in immigration related criminality, we will investigate most rigorously those people who seek to abuse the hospitality of the UK and commit crime.'

Heralding the close cooperation that led to the arrests, Northumbria police, Chief Superintendent, Graham Smith of Newcastle area command said:

'Today's activity was carried out at the request of the UK Border Agency as a result of an investigation by the North East immigration crime team. We are committed to supporting our partner agencies with operational assistance when they ask for it.

'The vast majority of people who come to this country to earn a living are hard working and abide by our laws. This is an example of how the authorities work together to take action against the minority who commit crime.'

Media coverage of operations to prevent human trafficking

Published date : 20/10/2009
Media coverage of operations to prevent human trafficking - UK Border Agency response
The UK Border Agency has responded to media coverage of operations to prevent human trafficking.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said:

'Human trafficking is an appalling crime where people are treated as commodities and traded for profit. It is a modern form of slavery. The UK Border Agency is committed to working with the UK Human Trafficking Centre, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the police to curb the trafficking of people for the sex trade, domestic servitude or exploitative labour purposes. Up to February 2009, there had been 100 convictions for trafficking.

'The UK has a comprehensive victim-centred strategy in place to tackle human trafficking, contained in an action plan launched in March 2007, updated on 2 July 2008 and annually thereafter. Where we identify victims they are referred via the national referral mechanism to the appropriate support and accommodation.'