Tough new UK immigration policy launched

- Posted in United Kingdom by Visa Bureauon 11 October 2011

Speaking at the Institute for Government in London today, UK Prime Minister David Cameron flagged a number of initiatives to toughen the UK's approach to immigration, including new British citizenship criteria and harsher stance of family migration rorts and other UK visa breaches.

Mr Cameron said that a tougher approach will require collaboration between government and citizens.

"For our part in government, we are creating a new national crime agency with a dedicated border policing command which will have responsibility for safeguarding the security of our border," he said.

But I want everyone in the country to help … including by reporting suspected illegal immigrants to our Border Agency through the Crimestoppers phoneline or through the Border Agency website. Together, we will reclaim our borders and send illegal immigrants home."

The Prime Minister singled out the issue of illegal immigration through the family and marriage routes to migration. In response, Mr Cameron said the Government will legislate to make forced or sham marriages a criminal offence and will back the reforms of the family migration system flagged controversially by Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this month.

The Government will also introduce a requirement for families to post a substantial financial bond of thousands of pounds in cases of settling a spouse or relative from overseas.

Furthermore, changes will be made to the citizenship test for applicants for UK passports to include questions about British history, mirroring a move made by the Howard Government in Australia in 2007.

"We're going to change the citizenship test. There's a whole chapter in the citizenship handbook on British history but, incredibly, there is no question on British history in the actual test," Cameron said.

"Instead you'll find questions on the roles and powers of the main institutions of Europe and the benefits system within the UK. So we are going to revise the whole test … and put British history and culture at the heart of it."

Migrant groups have responded strongly to the proposals. Don Flynn, Director of the Migrants' Rights Network, described the new policy approach as "backwards" and worrying".

Labour home affairs spokesperson Keith Vaz said that issuing a requirement for migrant families to post large financial bonds will have a detrimental impact on diplomatic and community relations.

"It (the policy) will antagonise settled communities in Britain and enrage our allies such as India".

UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their Life in the UK test.