visabureau.com > blogs > official blog

News, commentary & perspective from Visa Bureau

UK Immigration Update - 4 July, 2012

by Dominic 04/07/2012 13:08:00
As the Government continues its efforts to reduce net migraton from the current levels to the 'tens of thousands', the Home Secretary Theresa May announced her latest change to the UK immigration system. Meanwhile the argument from last summer's borders fiasco reared its head again with the publication of a report which said the MoD is having to assist in manning immigration desks, an Olympic embarrassment for the torch makers and David Cameron prepares for the worst in the eurozone.

Here is a look at some of the week's events concerning UK immigration:


UK citizenship test faces overhaul

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced her intention to overhaul the British citizenship test to place a new emphasis on 'Britishness'...read more.

Military Police drafted in to handle UK visa checks

Recent figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have shown that Military Police officers have been drafted in to help British airports process UK visa checks several times over the past year...read more.

Olympic torches made by illegal immigrants

After a raid by UK Border Agency staff recently, a Wolverhampton-based company responsible for gold plating the Olympic torches was found to have nine Indian men in the country illegally in their employment...read more.

Prime Minister threatens to shut UK borders

David Cameron has said he is prepared to shut the country's borders to Greek citizens if the troubled country leaves the Euro...read more.



UK citizenship test faces overhaul

Mrs May wants to test new
migrants on Britain's history.
 

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced her intention to overhaul the British citizenship test to place a new emphasis on 'Britishness'.

Mrs May claims the current British citizenship test and its accompanying handbook, Life in the UK: A Journey to Citizenship' does not focus on the country's history, instead containing sections on the Human Rights Act and instructions on how to claim benefits.

The home secretary reportedly wants to reinforce the image that Britain has 'historically' been a Christian nation built upon Christian values. Mrs May is expected to introduce sections which test participants on their knowledge of famous Britons such as the Duke of Wellington, Emmeline Pankurst and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

"It's a move away from the old one," said a Home Office official, "stuff on rights, practical info that has little to do with British culture to one that is clear about responsibilities and requires people to have a grounding in our history."

The announcement has been met with some dismay from critics who claim the new test will focus on knowledge that not only does not help new citizens assimilate into British culture, but on portions of history that most British citizens would not know.

"To make the test less practical and more historical will give migrants an abundance of knowledge they will not use," said Habib Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. "This is another measure to limit access to the UK.

"The home secretary needs to think again." 

back to the top


Military Police drafted in to handle UK visa checks

The way the UK's borders have
been handled recently has
attracted significant criticism.

Recent figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have shown that Military Police officers have been drafted in to help British airports process UK visa checks several times over the past year.

The figures come amidst fresh reports that UK immigration authorities are still struggling to cope with increased arrivals, with some reports claiming people are waiting up to three hours to get through passport control.

The MoD's figures show as many as 92 officers deployed on one day and officers posted at 17 different airports throughout the UK including Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Stansted.

The news is worrying as it comes just months after similar reports of lengthy delays and unstaffed desks in arrivals halls at British airports. Both the Home Secretary Theresa May and the UK Border Agency promised then that measures would be taken to deal with the problem and assured concerned people that the problem would be solved by the time the London Olympics gets underway.

But now with the Olympics less than a month away, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper says Mrs May needs to address the situation properly, and quickly.

"It shouldn't be beyond the home secretary to make sure that the borders force can institute proper checks and...make sure that passengers are not having to wait for such long periods," said Ms Cooper.

"The eyes of the world are upon us with the Olympics coming. I really think that the Home Secretary has to get out very quickly with some answers about why this has been allowed to happen at such an important time for our country." 

back to the top


Olympic torches made by illegal immigrants

8,000 Olympic torches
have been made for
the 2012 Olympics.

After a raid by UK Border Agency staff recently, a Wolverhampton-based company responsible for gold plating the Olympic torches was found to have nine Indian men in the country illegally in their employment.

Crown Polishing and Plating is now facing prosecution and fines up to £90,000 for employing workers without the correct UK visa; four of whom have been detained, the other five have been bailed.

The company now faces fines of up to £10,000 per worker unless they can prove that they took sufficient steps to ensure the workers were legal.

The news will be another Olympic embarrassment to the UK Government despite working hard to promote the torch's relay around Britain and comes after more reports of delays at the UK border.

Official statements from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) suggest the company is likely to be made an example of given the high profile of the torch relay.

"We are cracking down on companies that employ illegal workers and fail to carry out proper checks on passports and other identity documents," said a UKBA spokesperson.

"Any business that takes on a foreign national without permission to work is breaking the law and faces a heavy fine and possible prosecution." 

back to the top


Prime Minister threatens to shut UK borders

David Cameron said he is
prepared to do 'whatever it takes'
 

David Cameron has said he is prepared to shut the country's borders to Greek citizens if the troubled country leaves the Euro.

The situation in Greece has dominated the financial crisis in the eurozone in recent months yet despite bailouts, leadership elections and pledges from its European partners, whether the country will leave the Euro is still unknown.

A departure from the single currency is likely to be disastrous for Greece, most likely collapsing its economy and triggering a mass exodus of Greek citizens who have the right to settle in any other EU country, including the UK.

As the UK is not part of the eurozone and already has a significant Greek community, it is thought that the majority of any Greek exodus would attempt to settle in the UK.

However, Mr Cameron has confirmed that he is prepared to override the country's obligations to the EU and introduce strict new UK immigration controls to prevent an influx of Greek migrants which could destabilise the already uncertain British economy.

Answering questions before the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, the prime minister said he had been assured of the legality of such a move and was prepared to act if needs be.

"I hope it wouldn't come to that," said Mr Cameron. "But as I understand it, the legal powers are available if there are particular stresses and strains. You have to plan, you have to have contingencies, you have to be ready for anything, there is so much uncertainty in our world. But I hope those things don't become necessary."

Asked what purposes any specials would achieve, Mr Cameron said it was his duty to ensure Britain didn't suffer from the troubles of another country.

"I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our country safe, to keep our banking system strong, to keep our economy robust.

"At the end of the day, as prime minister, that is your first and foremost duty."

back to the top


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

Related posts

Comments