Home Secretary today sets
out plans to manage migration and protect British values
HOME OFFICE News
Release (188/2007) issued by The Government News Network on 5
The countdown to
the transformation of the immigration system began today when the
Home Secretary announced new rules for highly skilled foreign
workers applying to come to the UK.
In a wide ranging speech at the London School of Economics, the
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced changes to the UK's
immigration regime to ensure the system is firm but fair and
supports Britain's shared values.
The proposals published today include: plans to ensure that
migrants can integrate into communities through strengthened
requirements for English language; plans to ensure all migrants
play by the rules with strengthened restrictions on citizenship
for those who break the law and protection for vulnerable people
through measures to combat forced marriage.
Jacqui Smith said:
"Migration brings great social and
economic benefits to this country. But people expect it to be
managed robustly and in support of Britain's national
interests. That's why we're launching the countdown to
our new Points Based System which will begin in less than 100 days.
"The Points Based System will build on a package of measures
already being introduced to deliver a more secure border. These
include: new electronic checks to count people in and out of the
UK and clamp down on illegal immigration; fingerprinting of visa
applicants around the world before they are allowed to enter
Britain; and the introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals.
"I want people coming to live and work in the UK and their
families to be able to integrate fully into our society. So as
well as our existing and planned requirements for English language
proficiency, attached to settlement, citizenship and for skilled
workers, I am today publishing proposals for new requirements for
spouses who plan to settle here to have some knowledge of English
prior to arrival.
"I believe it is right that we protect those at risk and
that is why I am proposing that the age at which a person can
sponsor or be sponsored to come to the UK for marriage is raised
from 18 to 21.
"For those foreign nationals already living and working in
the UK, I also believe that it is right that they play by the
rules. That is why I want to strengthen our ability to block the
privilege of citizenship to those with a criminal record. After
all British citizenship is a privilege, not a right."
The Government's Australian-style Points Based System and
the new independent Migration Advisory Committee, which will meet
for the first time on 7 December, will provide new, robust
machinery to ensure that only those who meet the needs of the UK
will be allowed to enter and work.
The statement of intent for Tier 1 shows how the new tier will
replace eight existing immigration routes for people who are
highly skilled, entrepreneurs, investors or have undertaken
studies to a high level and want to stay in the UK to work.
Applicants will earn points for their skills and the potential
they show for economic success, competence in English language and
ability to support themselves and their dependents.
New measures to help to protect the vulnerable from being
pressurised into forced marriage were proposed by the Home Office
in a consultation published today. Proposals include raising the
minimum age at which people can come to this country for marriage
from 18 to 21. A separate consultation, also published today seeks
views on the introduction of an English language test before entry
for people applying for a spouse visa to help to encourage
A reform of the system was also announced to make it even harder
for foreigners with criminal convictions to ever become British.
Under new guidance, which will apply from 1 January 2008, it will
be made absolutely clear that people with an unspent conviction
will normally be refused nationality.
Notes to editors
1. The statement of intent for tier 1 of PBS
can be found at: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk
Tier 1 is the first of five tiers of the PBS due to be rolled out
over the next 18 months. Tier 2, targeting skilled workers with a
job offer and Tier 5, for temporary workers such as musicians,
actors and sportsmen will both come on line in the third quarter
of 2008. Tier 4, for students, will follow at the beginning of 2009.
Tier 3, which covers low skilled routes, will only be used if
specific shortages are identified that cannot be filled from the
UK on domestic or European labour force.
2. The consultation paper, 'Marriage to partners from
overseas a consultation paper, can be found at http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk
The consultation fulfils the promise made earlier this year to
consult on new arrangements for marriage visas in the Home Office
strategy 'Securing the UK Border'. The deadline for
responses is 27 February 2008.
3. The consultation paper, 'Marriage visas: Pre-entry
English language requirement for spouses - a consultation
paper', can be found at http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk
The deadline for responses is 27 February 2008.
4. The Home Office together with the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office has already made some progress in tackling forced marriage
by creating the Forced Marriage Unit in 2005. The
Government's Forced Marriage Unit deals with around 5,000
inquiries and helps rescue up to 300 women, children and men who
are trapped in an abusive, forced marriages every year.
5. In the past the Nationality Department has applied a policy
whereby a foreign national with a serious criminal conviction some
time in the past might conceivably pass the "good
character" test if they have not been reconvicted, and taking
a range of other factors into account. This is not acceptable and
is now being changed, so that from 1 January, no one who has a
conviction which is not spent under the Rehabilitation of
Offenders Act will normally be able to be granted citizenship.
Anyone subject to a good character test will be refused
citizenship if their convictions are unspent. The only people not
requiring a good character test are British nationals, those under
ten, and the stateless. Good character tests do not just take into
account criminality, but also an applicant's financial
affairs, and whether they have practiced deceit in their dealings
with Government departments.