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UK Immigration Update - 20 July, 2012

by Dominic 20/07/2012 10:22:00
UK immigration fuels biggest population growth in centuries

The first reports from last year's census has shown the biggest increase in population over the last 10 years since records began in the early 19th century...read more.

Stranded students complain of UK visa issues

Foreign students in Britain are complaining that UK visa delays leave them stranded in the country, unable to leave and not allowed to stay...read more.

Supreme Court decision threatens to force UK immigration overhaul

A Supreme Court decision centred on a Pakistani citizen's bid to remain in the UK has threatened to force a complete readdress of the coalition Government's substantial changes to the UK immigration system...read more.

UK immigration staff threaten Olympic strike

UK immigration staff at the country's borders have threatened to strike during the upcoming Games in a worrying development which threatens to further derail the Games' reputation...read more.




UK immigration fuels biggest population growth in centuries

The population of England and 
Wales has topped 56 million.
 

The first reports from last year's census has shown the biggest increase in population over the last 10 years since records began in the early 19th century.

Data from the 2011 census shows the population of England and Wales rose by 7.1% to 56.1 million people in the decade to 2011, an increase of 3.7 million people and making the UK the third most densely populated country in Europe after the Netherlands and Malta.

The increase is in part due to a higher birth rate and higher life expectancy but UK immigration has been shown to account for 56%, over 2 million people, of the increase.

The report has caused concern for some who fear that social services due to an aging population will be overburdened if current trends continue but once again it is immigration that proved the most contentious.

"Official numbers understated the scale of net migration by 14%, not accounting for illegal immigrants who did not complete the census," said Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch UK.

"Immigration will account for two thirds of our population increase in the next 15 years - 5 million."

Simon Ross of Population Matters agrees with Sir Andrew, claiming 'prospects for prosperity and quality of life do not improve with more people'.

However, Matt Cavanagh of the left leaning think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research says the trend isn't particularly unexpected compared to similar countries and claims that Germany's declining population is worse.

"The rate of increase is above the EU average, slightly above France and Italy, but half that of Spain," said Mr Cavanagh.

"Germany has a shrinking population, a cause for concern."

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Stranded students complain of UK visa issues

Foreign students are complaining
about the lack of progress in 
processing UK visa applications.
 

Foreign students in Britain are complaining that UK visa delays leave them stranded in the country, unable to leave and not allowed to stay.

A petition to the Home Office has received hundreds of signatures from foreign students, some who claim to have gone without their passports for as long as five months, who claim their 'basic rights' are being denied while they await their UK visa decisions.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has labelled the delay a 'complete outrage' that is quickly becoming a 'serious problem' which is further affecting the country's ability to attract overseas students.

The UK is a world leader in the international education industry and provides billions of pounds a year to the British economy but concerned voices claiming new stringent UK immigration policies are damaging the industry are beginning to grow.

The removal of post study work rights for international students has sparked an ongoing row over the damage to the industry while the inclusion of international student numbers to net migration figures pushed a coalition of British universities to write to David Cameron, imploring him to remove the figures.

Meanwhile, 600 foreign students who have finished courses and are awaiting permission to remain in the UK have signed a petition which claims 'the deplorable quality of service provided by the [UK Border Agency] ill befits a nation like the United Kingdom'.

Many have paid the £500 processing fees and been required to submit their passports. The UKBA says the backlog will be addressed by the end of the summer but told any disgruntled students they were free to remove their applications.

"The remaining applications will be worked through by the end of the summer and applicants will be contacted once a decision is made," said a UKBA spokesperson.

"Anyone who wishes to withdraw their application and have their documents retuned can do so by contacting the immigration inquiry bureau."

However, an NUS spokesperson said this promise wasn't good enough.

"It is clear that delays to the processing of visa applications is becoming a serious problem," said the spokesperson.

"International students are facing the direct financial and emotional costs of an under-resourced UKBA.

"Having paid thousands of pounds in visa application fees and after facing a raft of bureaucratic procedures, their applications have now been put in put in a pile with little hope of being processed in a timely manner.

"As a result, vulnerable students are now stuck in the UK unable to work, unable to go home to their families and unable to get on with their lives." 

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Supreme Court decision threatens to force UK immigration overhaul

The Supreme Court's ruling could
have far reaching consequences.

A Supreme Court decision centred on a Pakistani citizen's bid to remain in the UK has threatened to force a complete readdress of the coalition Government's substantial changes to the UK immigration system.

A cornerstone of the Conservatives' election manifesto in 2010 was to reduce net migration to the UK from the 250,000 levels left by the previous Labour government to the 'tens of thousands' by the end of the next election.

In line with that aim, the Home Secretary Theresa May and Immigration Minister Damian Green have made substantial changes to UK visa and immigration policy which have included changes to student visa policy and the introduction of salary thresholds for migrants to either enter, remain or bring relatives, to the UK.

However, the salary threshold, which requires a foreign citizen to be earning at least £18,600 a year to be allowed to bring a partner to the country, more if the couple has children, has been found to fall short of the court's requirements to pass a law.

Parliamentary law dictates that any immigration law be presented before the parliament to be proper debated and agreed upon by members of the house yet Mrs May's changes, which came into effect in April, were detailed in a code of practice that was not presented to the parliament.

This, in effect, renders the rules redundant and Mrs May has been forced to urgently present the rules to parliament to ensure they are properly approved.

The case was presented when Hussain Zulfiquar Alvi, a 34 year old Pakistani citizen, was refused leave to remain in the UK for failing to meet Mrs May's new salary standards.

The court's ruling is likely to have far reaching effects and the Home Office is expecting a barrage of new legal challenges from people in a similar position to Mr Alvi.

"This decision will no doubt reverberate loudly and widely, given the sheer number of cases on related matters winding their way through the courts at present," said Mr Alvi's solicitor.

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UK immigration staff threaten Olympic strike

A strike which could threaten the
Games could prove to be 
extremely damaging.
 

UK immigration staff at the country's borders have threatened to strike during the upcoming Games in a worrying development which threatens to further derail the Games' reputation.

The Home Office has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with UK immigration staff since last summer when it emerged security checks had been relaxed for expediency's sake. Since then, the head of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has resigned, the UK Border Force has split from the UKBA, numerous staff cuts have been announced and the Government has been plagued by reports of extensive queues.

With the Olympics less than a week away, the Home Office has been scrambling to assure that immigration desks at British airports, particularly Heathrow, will be fully staffed during the Games but reports that staff are planning to strike could throw the whole process into turmoil.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents many border agency staff, said it had voted in favour of strike action to protest staff cuts.

"Ministers have known about [staffing] issues for a very long time but have chosen not to act," said a PCS statement.

"We believe they have acted recklessly and irresponsibly in cutting so many jobs."

While only 20% of PCS took part in the vote, 57% of those approved strike action while 75% backed other forms of industrial action.

Immigration Minister Damian Green has slammed the threat as 'completely unacceptable'.

"A decision to strike is completely unacceptable and we believe the public will have no sympathy with the union's decision," said Mr Green.

"Any action that disrupts the Olympics will be completely unacceptable and the public will not support it."

Prime Minister David Cameron has agreed with his immigration minister, saying any action which threatened to disrupt the Games would not be 'right or justified'.

The strike has since been confirmed for the day before the Olympics open.

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- 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.

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