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Secure Borders, Safe Havens

MAJOR CHANGES TO UK IMMIGRATION LAWS ANNOUNCED IN "WHITE PAPER".

The home secretary David Blunkett's white paper, "Secure Borders, SafeHaven", was released on Thursday 7th February.

It is a wide ranging document dealing with how economic migrants, asylumseekers and new citizens would be dealt with.

The white paper's main proposals are:

Legal migrants

The working holidaymakers scheme, under which Commonwealth citizens, mainlySouth African, Australian and New Zealand single 17 to 27-year-olds, come to theUK for two years, would be extended to eastern Europeans. A consultation

paper is to be published to ensure that the scheme is as inclusive aspossible and not dominated by the above Commwealth countries.

The seasonal agricultural workers' scheme would be extended across theeconomy with quotas for industries short of labour. Under the scheme a workercould stay up to six months but would have no right to bring dependants.

The work permit scheme would be extended to those with medium skills fromoutside the EU coming for a specific job. Permit holders would be able to applyto stay in Britain after four years.

Charges would be introduced for work permits.

Foreign imans and others who come to Britain to work as ministers of religionwould have to speak English.

Asylum

Campsfield House detention centre, near Oxford, would close, but overallcapacity in secure removals would be expanded by 40% to 4,000 places by nextspring.

An EU and United Nations high commission for refugees scheme would allow aquota of asylum seekers to enter Britain

each year. The intention is to establish gateways for those most in need ofprotection to come here legally.

Vouchers would be phased out by the end of 2002.

The 1999 laws giving legal right for bail hearings in court for those indetention would be repealed. Eight sites have been

identified for the introduction of a "seamless system" ofinduction, accommodation, reporting and removal centres. The dispersal schemeoutside London and south-east would continue but based on language clusterareas.

There would be 10 days to appeal against refusal of claim for asylum and noappeal against removal. The programme

assisting those who want to return home before their asylum claim isdetermined would be expanded.

A confidential hotline to expose immigration abuse would be set up.

There would be enhanced opportunties for those accepted as refugees through arefugee integration programme.

Citizenship

Applicants for citizenship would have to demonstrate they had a certainstandard of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. Applicants would need to producecertificates showing they had passed a test.

A ceremony would be held to celebrate new citizens. Applicants would havelived in Britain for at least three years and woud be asked to swear an oath ofallegiance to the Queen and to uphold democratic values and respect humanrights. Existing citizens would not have to take the pledge.

A study pack would include a statement of what it meant to be a Britishcitizen.

There would be new powers to strip individuals of citizenship if they hadhidden involvement in terrorism or war crimes.

Suspected war criminals would be refused entry.

There would be more flexibility in residence requirements and reform of othernationality rules.

Marriage and family visits

Talks to be held with communities that practice arranged marriages.

Sham marriages would be tackled by increasing the probationary period forleave to remain after marriage from 12 months to two years.

Immigration rules for unmarried partners would be revised but those who cameto Britain for a different purpose and then

lodged a marriage application would be banned. Currently, 75% of"marriage" applicants enter Britain under a different category.

Illegal immigration

The white paper suggests there are hundreds of thousands of illegal migrantsconcentrated in low wage sectors such as catering, cleaning, hospitality,construction and agriculture.

Employers and illegal workers would be targeted by strengthened immigrationservice teams.

Those with no right to stay in UK would be removed. Employers who knowinglyemployed illegal workers would be fined up to £5,000 for each illegal worker

Entitlement cards would be used as means of identification for potentialemployees. to curb fraud.

The maximum penalty for people smugglers would be increased from 10 to 14years and would cover those who helped them to remain in the country unlawfully.

Children born in Britain to parents who were illegal entrants or here ontemporary admission would be brought into the

immigration process at an earlier stage so as not to delay the family'sdeportation.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation and trafficking for labour exploitationwould be made criminal offences carrying a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.

The victims of trafficking and illegal immigrants suffering exploitationwould be dealt with compassionately and offered help.

Border Controls

A pilot scheme at Prague airport for checking passengers against immigrationservice database before they travel to the

UK would be extended to other countries. Airlines would be able to checkpassenger details before flights.

Heartbeat sensors, x-ray and gamma ray scanners would be used at Dover andCoquelles to spot hidden illegal entrants.

New technology, such as equipment for iris or face recognition orfingerprints, would be used, to speed through frequent

travellers and those who have been accepted to travel into the UK.

The Dublin convention, which governs the movement of asylum seekers fromFrance to Britain, would be replaced.