Visa applications: Home Office refuses to reveal 'high risk' countries
Campaign groups have criticised the Home Office after it refused to release details of which countries are deemed a “risk” in an algorithm that filters UK visa applications.
Campaigners for immigrants’ rights were sent a fully redacted list of nations in different categories of “risk”, which were entirely blacked out, on a Home Office response to their legal challenge over the artificial intelligence programme.
In defence of its use of the AI system a Home Office spokesperson said the programme fully complied with equality legislation.
But the Home Office defended the use of the AI tool, stressing that the final decision on entry to the UK was made by immigration officers.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the public would expect, we have always used processes that enable UK Visas and Immigration to allocate its high volume of cases in an efficient way.
“The streaming tool, first developed in 2015, attributes a risk rating to an application based on a number of criteria, including nationality, and this rating is used to allocate work to caseworkers, not decide the application. Every application is decided by an entry clearance officer.
“The tool complies fully with the relevant legislation under the Equality Act 2010.”
The Home Office spokesperson added that UK Visas and Immigration received more than 3.3 million visa applications in the year ending June 2019, of which just under 2.9 million were granted.
1 December 2019
EU and Commonwealth visitors must apply for new US-style visas to enter the UK after Brexit, Priti Patel says
Visitors to the UK from the European Union and the Commonewealth will have to comply with a US-style electronic visa system after Brexit, under plans set out today by Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The plans for a new Electronic Travel Authorisation system (ETA) will make it easier for border guards to screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK, the Tories say.
It is part of a five-strong plan to secure the borders after Brexit and will be launched by Ms Patel and Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, at a border post today.
Other measures include plans to count visitors into and out of the UK and to stop migrants using EU identity cards instead of the more secure passports.
6 November 2019
New UK Post-Study Work Visa Valid for 2 Years
Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom outlines business prospects and innovations in the UK:
"I agree wholeheartedly with Management Today in championing UK business, particularly at a time when many seem to have forgotten the fantastic strengths we have, as the world’s fifth biggest economy.
We have the most creative financial services sector anywhere, we speak the international business language, and three of the world’s top 10 universities are here, yet some can only picture doom and gloom. I think we need far more self-belief in our abilities as a country. We can build the low carbon, hi-tech, business-backing United Kingdom we all want to see.
From our universities to our creative industries, from offshore wind to outer space, Britain is leading the way globally. Brexit represents a fantastic opportunity to build on these successes to do even more, even better. So here are my five reasons:
1. International talent: UK business benefits from a talented pool of highly skilled international workers. Brexit will allow us not only to support the talent that we have here, but also to attract the best minds from around the world. For example, in September we announced a fast-track visa route for scientists, ensuring the UK remains a global science superpower. We have also launched a two year post-study work visa so that overseas university students can stay and apply what they’ve learned in the UK.
2. Clean energy: As the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global climate change, we are perfectly positioned to seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner technology, with annual exports from our green economy to be worth up to £170bn by 2030.
3. New trade deals: We will reform regulation of emerging technologies and pursue free trade opportunities with the North American and Asia-Pacific economies to develop renewable energy, clean growth and electric vehicles, and to boost foreign direct investment. This will give British companies the freedom to explore new markets and secure investment from every corner of the globe.
4. Investment in our economy: We will replace EU funding programmes with domestic ones that are more focused on UK priorities, ensuring Britain’s businesses and regions have the support they need to thrive and expand productivity after Brexit.
5. The labour market: I am determined to see the highest standards for workers’ rights after we leave the EU. In the Queen’s Speech, the government pledged to take steps to make work fairer, including delivering on the commitments set out in our Good Work Plan. This will increase fairness and flexibility in the labour market by strengthening workers’ ability to get redress for poor treatment and increase transparency and clarity for staff and employers, taking account of modern working relationships and routines."
14 October 2019
UK commits to vague "Aussie-style" visa points system
If - as ministers have promised - a points-based immigration system based on the current Australian system is introduced, the way it would work will not be known until the government's independent expert body, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), reports in January and ministers then agree on exactly how the post-Brexit scheme will operate.
Outlining Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government's legislative proposals for the coming session of parliament, the Queen said a new immigration bill would "lay the foundation for a fair, modern and global immigration system".
She added, "My government remains committed to ensuring that resident European citizens, who have built their lives in and contributed so much to the United Kingdom, have the right to remain."
The Australian points system is based on such characteristics as applicants' age (25-32 being the highest-scoring group), educational qualifications, language proficiency, work experience and occupation. Unlike the current UK system for non-EEA applicants, it is not dependent on the person already having a job offer and, hence, is not reliant on a minimum salary threshold.
"The points system (in Australia) has been used over the decades to increase migration above the level that would be achieved by relying only on employer sponsorship," says Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University and a member of the MAC.
"However, it is not possible to say whether or how much introducing an ‘Australian-style points system’ to the UK would increase migration, without knowing how this system would be designed. A points system is simply a way of ranking and prioritising applicants for work visas.
18 September 2019
The Post-study work visa can bring more knowledge to the UK
The government’s announcement that it is to reintroduce the two-year post-study work visa for international students is a shot in the arm not just for universities, but for our businesses, services and communities. In the debate over immigration to the UK, economic impact inevitably dominates the discussion of the value that international students and workers contribute. However, it is the knowledge, skills and experience that they bring, share and embed, along with a broadening of our cultural diversity, which should really be valued most.
The appeal of our universities remains strong across the globe. However, the withdrawal of the UK’s post-study work offer in 2012 has not afforded the same degree of security that some of our competitors in, for example, the US, Australia and Canada could offer their international graduates. And it has limited the opportunities to work with our world-leading companies and undertake the pioneering research that our universities have become synonymous with.
Without that security, and the time to begin and develop a career here, what incentive would there be to retain their abilities here at the end of their degree? This “new route” for international students here in the UK, as the prime minister has described it, has multiple benefits. It means our employers have a greater pool of talent to select from, helping to meet the skills needs of the country.
UK needs to boost India relations to seal trade deals
The UK has fallen behind other countries in its share of India’s fast-growing trade, in large part due to Britain’s restrictive immigration policies, according to a new report. The Commons foreign affairs select committee described the UK’s neglect of longstanding ties with India as an “expensive missed opportunity”, noting Britain has slipped from being its second largest trade partner in 1998-99 to 17th in 2018-19.The committee’s report highlighted the difficulty the UK will face in building new trade relationships outside the EU after Brexit, unless it also becomes more open to overseas workers, students and tourists.
“While the Global Britain strategy is barely being communicated in India, the ‘hostile environment’ message is being heard loud and clear,” said the report, referring to tension between prime minister Theresa May’s strategy for post-Brexit trade and her target to cut annual net migration to below 100,000.
MPs on the committee called on the government to be honest about priorities, since these goals were incompatible. India’s government has made it clear that it will be in no rush to reach a trade deal with the UK without significant concessions on movement of people.
Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform, a think-tank, has argued that “if the UK is to become a global services trading hub, it will need to create an immigration regime which prioritises enticing people in over keeping them out”.
Britons Appreciate the Advantages of Immigration more than Europeans
Britons appreciate the benefits of immigration more than their European counterparts, a survey has shown, despite the assumption that the UK was most hostile towards immigrants in light of Brexit.
The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism survey found that nearly half of all British people believe that immigrants have either a positive or neutral impact on the country.
Across other European countries, the numbers were lower. In Germany, 24% believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. This dropped further to 21 percent in France and 19 percent in Denmark.
Nearly a third, 28%, of Britons believed that the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs. 20 percent believed the costs and benefits were about equal, and 16 percent were not sure.
37% of Britons felt that the costs of immigration outweighed the benefits. This was the second lowest amount in any big European country after Poland. Elsewhere, 50 percent of Italians believed immigration to be negative, as well as 49 percent of Swedes and 42 percent of French and 40 percent of Germans.
Britons Will Not Need a Visa to Switzerland After Brexit, Even for Long Stays
The Federal Council of Switzerland has decided to maintain its good relations with the United Kingdom, in terms of free movement, even after the latter’s departure from the EU. In the latest meeting held on March 22, the Swiss Federal Council agreed on three decisions in the field of migration, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Among others, the council decided that UK nationals would be exempt from the visa requirement to enter Switzerland after Brexit, even for long-term stays.
According to a press release of the Swiss government, the EU is believed to exempt Britons from the requirement to get a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen Area, part of which Switzerland is. However, Switzerland has decided to take a step further and drop even long stay visas for British citizens, after getting a confirmation that Britain will do the same for Swiss citizens.
EU offers Britons visa-free travel for short trips, if UK reciprocates
The European Union plans to allow UK citizens visa-free travel after Brexit, if they are travelling to Europe on a short trip. The European Council will negotiate the terms and then submit the legislation to the European Parliament to pass the legislation.
Visa-Free travel would apply to British citizens for a period of 90-180 days, who are travelling to any of the 26 countries, with open borders (The Schengen Area). The Council stipulates that 'Visa exemption is granted on the condition of reciprocity'. The UK has previously said it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens traveling to Britain for short stays after Brexit. But if that changes, the EU would "commit to act without delay" to impose reciprocal visa requirements, it warns.
However, the European Commission has also confirmed that as of 2021, UK visitors to the EU will have to pay €7 (about $8) for the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS), which can be bought online ahead of travel. This will last for three years and ensure smooth entry at EU borders and airports, similar to the current ESTA scheme that many tourists use to travel to the United States.