Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Re: UK ‘shooting itself in the foot’ on immigration policy

Few days ago I read an article in The Times written by Lord O’Donnell, the former head of the British civil service.
In the article, Lord O’Donnell opined that the UK government is shooting itself in the foot and should change its immigration policy to boost economic growth.

He went on to mention how the annual limit introduced by the coalition government in 2011 on skilled workers from outside the EU is proving to be a “big barrier to growth” that is depriving the UK of talented people.

The affable Lord O’Donnell then went on to advise the government that “The first thing the government can do to help growth is to stop shooting itself in the foot”.

Everyone that has been following the staccato of changes to Immigration Rules (about 20 changes in the last 2 years - and still counting) will agree that it is borne out of the government’s drive to slash net migration to, as it is often spouted by the Home Office officials, “tens of thousands” by 2015.

Nobody is arguing with the drive to slash net migration but as it is evident with the style of cuts being implemented in all other spheres of governance, this so called drive to slash net migration and the way it is being done is counter-productive as it is stifling growth.

The changes to Immigration Rules that are adversely affecting growth is not limited to skilled workers from outside the EU but cuts across all the Points-Based System applications. Most visibly of all are the changes affecting foreign Students.

This has had most Colleges and Universities reeling from huge shortfall in student in-take from outside the European zone. It is a known fact that most of the Colleges and Universities in United Kingdom had always been dependent on foreign students to balance their books. These foreign students pay astronomical fees which the institutions depend on as a lifeline for growth. Suddenly, the rug is now being pulled from under their feet.

I attended a meeting with some proprietors of private colleges about a year ago in London where everyone present was lamenting at the effects of the changes inherent at the time. Many more changes have been introduced since that meeting that has further hit these educational institutions in the pocket. The micro after-effect of this is the loss of licences of many Colleges and Universities - the most recent being the London Metropolitan University - and the attendant loss of jobs by employees and students of these unfortunate institutions.

It is reckoned that the macro after-effect of this is a massive loss to the economy which many believe runs into hundreds of millions of pounds a year which has contributed to the lack of growth in the economy.

Part of the reasons for this constant tinkling with the immigration rules also stem from the belief that immigrants are taking up jobs meant for the British nationals. This school of thought is so far away from the truth that it is so glaring that even the uninitiated can see it clearly that it is nothing but.

A recent example is the problem that arose with G4S shortly before the recent London Olympics.

G4s was awarded a contract to employ a little over 10,000 people to work during the Olympics. This contract was awarded years before the Olympics was due to open but less than a week to the opening of the games we were told that G4S was unable to fill the vacancies. This is in spite of the fact that there were over 3 million people unemployed at the time.

It beggars believe that an opening of 10,000 employment opportunities could not be filled at a time that over 3 million people are on the dole.

It doesn’t take a genius to work it out that had the Home Office not been coming down hard on migrants and employers employing them, the problem with G4S wouldn’t arise.

I commented in one of my numerous articles that we seem to be cutting our noses to spite our faces.

I was recently invited to a TV talk show on Sky channel 203 called “The Chrissy B Show” to discuss the topic ‘In Search of Greener Pastures’.

Before I came on to my segment of the show, a clip was aired of a lady who works with migrants in a factory and she spoke of how hardworking the migrants she works with are. She went as far as saying that the migrants - even though they hardly have enough sleep due to the long hours they worked - are even scared to turn down overtime. She extolled their work ethics and added that even though she is hardworking herself, she is in awe of their energy and willingness to go on regardless.  

I am not against tightening of the borders and restricting or barring people who should not be in this country from coming in but my argument is that it should be done with some level of common sense, decorum and fair play. In a nutshell, whatever rules that is to be put in place for this purpose should have a human face.

The situation has got to the stage now that certain aspect of the immigration rule borders on segregation. The income threshold requirement being introduced affecting even British citizens wishing to bring their spouse into the UK for settlement from outside the European zone is a typical example.

The income threshold requirement is set at a level that is beyond the average employed British citizen. To make matters worse the threshold gets even higher with the more children you have with your spouse.

This is a subtle warning to British citizens to choose carefully who to fall in love with. I am surprised that no one as yet challenged this flagrant abuse of human right.

Again, if you have a child living outside the European zone who is over 18, you cannot bring that child to come and live with you in the UK unless they are suffering from some ailment that requires looking after round-the-clock. Even then, you still have to prove that there is nobody else to care for them out there. How bizarre?

So in my candid opinion, I would say that the learned Lord O’Donnell is spot on with his opinion and advice that the UK government is “shooting itself in the foot” and should change its immigration policy to boost economic growth.




Saturday, 25 August 2012

UKBA To Track Down 150,000 Illegal Immigrants

The UKBA is planning to launch a project in September 2012 to deal with the huge backlog of Immigrants who have overstayed their leave in the UK.

It plans to write to an estimated 150,000 illegal immigrants who are remaining in the UK illegally.

According to the statement from the Immigration Minister Damian Green, the UKBA will send letters to those who's applications have been refused by the UKBA but are still remaining in the UK illegally warning them that they a liable to be deported and barred from entering the UK unless they leave within 28 days.

There is a change to the Immigration Rules affecting overstayers which will take effect from 1st October 2012. This new statement from the Immigration Minister looks like a preamble to that.

This project, according to the statement, will be targeting foreign nationals from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Asylum Seekers

The Supreme Court has yesterday delivered another landmark judgment in a case brought before it by the Home Office.

The case involved a Zimbabwean woman who came into the UK on a student visa but later had her asylum claim rejected by the UKBA officials who allegedly insisted she should go back to her country of origin and simply pretend she backed the ruling party.

However, seven judges of the Supreme Court "agreed that a person's right not to support any political party deserved the same protection under the UN's Refugee Convention as the right to support them".

This ruling stand to favour thousands of asylum seekers and my advice to anyone in this situation is to seek for proper legal advice on the next step forward.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Changes to applications from overstayers

The UK Border Agency has announced another change to the Immigration Rules affecting applications from overstayers.

"From 1 October 2012 if you have overstayed your leave by more than 28 days any application for further leave will be refused. This change in the Immigration Rules will affect applicants applying for further leave under:

  • the points-based system;
  • all working and student routes;
  • visiting routes;
  • long residency routes;
  • discharged HM Forces; or
  • UK ancestry routes.

This change is in line with the new immigration rules coming into effect for the family migration route from 9 July 2012.

If you have limited leave to remain you must ensure you apply to extend your leave, if needed, in time. If you wish to remain in the UK after the 28 day period you should leave the UK and reapply for a visa".

Please monitor this website for further information about the changes.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New Guide on Preventing Illegal Working in the UK

The UKBA has published new guide for employers on how to prevent illegal working in the UK.

The guide is meant to assist employers in carrying out the right checks on documents that are acceptable as proof of right to work in the UK.

For more information click here

Monday, 11 June 2012

Changes to the Immigration Rules come into effect on 6 April 2012

As previously announced, a number of changes to the Immigration Rules are coming into effect on 6 April.

These include changes for migrants coming to the UK under the following routes of the points-based system:

  • Tier 1 - high-value migrants.
  • Tier 2 - skilled workers, including: new arrangements for students switching into Tier 2 and confirmation that the limit for non-EU skilled workers allowed into the UK will remain at 20,700 for the next 2 years.
  • Tier 4 - students.
  • Tier 5 - temporary workers.

In addition to these changes the government is also increasing from 6 April, the funds that applicants will need to provide evidence of, in order to meet the maintenance requirements for Tier 4 and Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme). Changes to the level of funds needed for applicants in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 (Temporary worker) will come into effect on 14 June.

Changes are also being made to:

  • Curtailment (cutting short the leave you have if you fail to start, or have ceased your work or study).
  • The visitor rules, with the creation of a new visitor route for permitted paid engagements to allow a small group of professionals, artists, entertainers and sportspersons who are to come to the UK to undertake short-term remunerated activities, for up to 1 month without formal sponsorship.
  • The overseas domestic worker routes.
  • The extension of leave to remain, so that Tier 2 migrants can now extend for a further 3 years, to take their stay up to a maximum of 6 years in total.

A more detailed summary of the changes can be found in the UK Border Agency news story published on 15 March and the news story published on 4 April, when the changes to the rules were laid in Parliament.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Summer 2011 interns exempt from Tier 2 cooling off period

Here's another update from the UK Border Agency:

Students who worked as interns in the UK last summer and want to return to a graduate job with the same company are now temporarily exempt from cooling off rules.

Cooling off rules, introduced to Tier 2 (General) in February this year, mean those who have left Tier 2 need to wait a year from the end of their last application before they can apply again through that route. This is similar to the arrangements we put in place for intra-company transfers last year.

To qualify for the temporary exemption, which is available until 31 October, you must:

o   be sponsored by the same company where you worked as an intern in the summer of 2011;

o   have previously been granted permission under Tier 2 (General) with that company for a temporary job lasting no more than 4 months as an intern or a summer associate;

o   have completed a degree course within 18 months of your application; be returning to the UK on a graduate trainee scheme; and

o   be making a Tier 2 (General) application with a start date on the certificate of sponsorship of 31 October 2012 or before.

Tier 5 is the most appropriate route for internships and a number of Tier 5 (Government authorised exchange) schemes are available. Employers should use these in future if they are concerned about the impact of the cooling off period on their interns.

Friday, 30 March 2012


The UK Border Agency planning to embark on a trial of dental X-rays, starting on 29 March. The proposal is announced by Zilla Bowell, Director of Asylum. For full details read on.......

" I am writing to let you know that, in conjunction with Croydon Council and Professor Graham Roberts of King's College Hospital, we are planning to embark on a trial of dental X-rays, starting on 29 March. The purpose of the trial is to establish whether dental X-rays are a useful tool in helping to establish people's ages when they have been assessed as an adult yet continue to maintain that they are a minor.

Many of you will be aware of the difficulties that arise when we are not able to establish, with any certainty, the age of an asylum applicant. We are keen to utilise any appropriate tool which can increase our levels of certainty (as long as it does not have a negative impact on the individual in safeguarding terms, of course). We believe that the process developed by Professor Roberts offers a potential means of achieving this, and we intend to explore the possibilities by testing his process within the framework of the asylum system.
We shall be offering individuals who are assessed by Croydon Council as adults, but who continue to contend that they are children, the opportunity to have a dental X-ray at Guys Hospital. The results will be passed back to the Agency, and the Agency will then contact the applicant. If the X-ray indicates that the individual is likely to be under 18, Croydon Council will be invited to review the age assessment in the light of the new evidence. If the X-ray indicates that the individual is likely to be over 18, their position will not change - they will continue to be treated as an adult in the asylum system, subject to any additional evidence emerging.

It will be made clear to asylum applicants who are offered the opportunity to participate (and, to be clear, the people who fall into this category are those who have recently been the subject of an age assessment from Croydon Council and who have been assessed as adults), that participation in the pilot is completely voluntary and that, if they do not choose to participate, it will not adversely affect their claim for asylum or humanitarian protection. We anticipate that the trial will last for three months. We are currently finalising the evaluation arrangements with the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser".

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Monday, 26 March 2012

ASSISTED VOLUNTARY RETURN (Nigerian Diaspora Event 2012)

I got an invitation to attend an important event called “Assisted Voluntary Return”. I was invited to this event by a charity organisation called Association of British Nigerian Law Enforcement officers (ABLE).

This organisation is renowned for consistently working towards reversing the unflattering negative image often-labelled on Nigerians in Diaspora. They have been doing this for years by working in partnership with British and Nigerian Government Agencies.

This organisation is populated and run by Nigerian professionals working in various UK Law Enforcement Agencies, from Metropolitan Police to HMRC to Border Forces etc.

This Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) event was organised by ABLE in collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the UK Border Agency (UKBA), the Nigerian High Commission (NHC).

We had representatives from all the aforementioned in attendance as well as a representative from Choices (a charity organisation saddled with the responsibility of administering the AVR scheme), who all contributed and enlightened the attendees about the benefits of this AVR scheme.

I chose to write about this event primarily because it is a scheme that is geared towards giving Immigrants the choice of returning home with dignity instead of allowing themselves to be apprehended, detained and subsequently deported in handcuffs accompanied by escorts. Another reason is that anything that has to do with the welfare of Immigrants is a subject that is very close to my heart. 

The event, like I said, was held last weekend at Lister Hall along Lister Road, London E11 3DA.

It was very enlightening as there was a Questions and Answer session. It was generally an eye-opening event that I would recommend for any Immigrant in the UK to attend when next it is organised.

To those people that I invited to accompany me but turned down the invitation fearing that the event was a set up to round up illegal immigrants and ship them home. I make bold to say that I hung around at a secret location after the event to observe and nothing of such happened. I am sure that many of those that attended the event to attest to this fact.

I am saying this now so that we can all re-tune our mindset and keep our eyes and ears open to be able to absorb new ideas that would benefit us. It’s no gain saying the fact that many of our people have lost out of gaining vital knowledge and information because of unfounded fear and outdated sentiments.

Though the AVR scheme set up by the UK government is meant for all Immigrants in the UK irrespective of country of origin, but this particular AVR event by ABLE is aimed at Nigerians in the UK and is meant to:

  1. Raise awareness of the benefits of the Assisted Voluntary Return scheme;
  2. Encourage participation of Nigerian communities in disseminating this information and
  3. Highlight other initiatives in Nigeria to support returnees.

The AVR scheme is designed for all Migrants (including Asylum seekers) who have exhausted all appeal options and failed as well as the so-called illegal immigrants with no leave to remain in the UK.

The bottom line of this scheme – which I find interesting - is to accord Migrants a choice of returning home with their dignity intact and, in some cases, with a bit of financial incentive to help their reintegration back in their home country.

Mr. Steve Hall of the AVR Team, UK Border Agency spoke extensively about the benefits of this scheme especially how AVR is a better option for Migrants than an enforced return. I am reproducing hereunder an excerpt from the paper he presented so that readers can make up their minds on which option to take.

Enforcement versus Assisted Voluntary Return

Enforced Removal
Assisted Voluntary Return
May have little notice from the time they become removable.
Dates of departure are agreed with returnees.
May face the prospect of being arrested with a view to detaining them pending removal.
Individuals agreeing to return voluntarily will not subsequently be detained for removal.
In some circumstances, escorts will accompany the person being removed until they reach the country of return.
Escorts do not accompany returnees on their journey from the UK.

What is Assisted Voluntary Return?

3 Options for leaving the UK Voluntarily

  1. Leave the UK independently (own expense);
  2. Leave the UK under the Voluntary Departure/Removal procedure arranged through UKBA enforcement teams;
  3. Leave the UK under one of the Assisted Voluntary Return schemes.
Key influencing factors in AVR take up

    • Visible enforcement action/detention;
    • Security and political situations in countries of return;
    • Family dynamics and the desire for reunification;
    • Life in UK not as anticipated.
Advantages to all

  • If not detained, 3 months in which to prepare to permanently return;
  • Return with dignity as normal passenger;
  • Journey all the way home;
  • In some cases financial support (AVRFC, VARRP);
  • Supports micro-economy of receiving country;
  • A positive solution to unrealistic expectations of life in the UK;
  • Savings to UKBA and public services;
  • The best option.

VARRP – the scheme for asylum seekers

Open to asylum seekers or failed asylum seekers of any nationality (apart from UK, Swiss or EEA nationals) meeting the eligibility criteria.


  • Provides support in acquiring travel documentation;
  • Flight to country of origin and onward domestic transport;
  • Airport assistance at departure and arrival airports;
  • Reintegration assistance (£500 cash + £1000 in kind).

AVRFC – reintegration/eligibility similar to VARRP

  • One/both parents or guardians plus at least one child under 18 years;
  • Or, unaccompanied children under 18 years;
  • Irregular migrants or asylum seekers.

-              Other family members under 18 considered under VARRP or AVRIM (Voldep);

-              Each family member gets reintegration;

-              £500 cash + £1500 in kind per AVRFC family member.

AVRIM – the scheme for irregular migrants

Assists irregular migrants – illegal entrants, trafficked people, smuggled people, overstayers – of any nationality (apart from UK, Swiss or EEA nationals) to return to their country of origin with dignity.


  • Provides support in acquiring travel documentation;
  • Flight to country of origin and onward domestic transport;
  • Airport assistance at departure and arrival airports;
  • No reintegration assistance.

AVR – use of reintegration assistance

  • Children’s clothes shop (rental for premises, stock purchase);
  • Beverage sales (purchase of initial stock – own premises);
  • Fabric Sales (Wholesale to market traders);
  • Construction materials (iron rods no storage problems – plans for transport;
  • Barbers 9experience in UK – set up salon);
  • Minibus (mechanics experience – employs conductor);
  • Tractor (Construction delivery rather than agriculture – employs part-time driver).

AVR – advantages of the programmes

  • Enforcement action will not be taken leading up to departure;
  • Deal entirely with Choices, not UKBA;
  • 3 months preparation time (unless detained);
  • Depart with dignity as a normal passenger;
  • Advice support for all;
  • Financial support for VARRP and VARFC;
  • Eligibility criteria publicly available – honesty best policy;
  • It’s voluntary!
AVR – Key Actions

  1. AVR is often the best option to return home for those with no permanent right to stay in the UK;
  2. Anyone interested may contact Choices – who administer the scheme – on 0800 800 0007 (Freephone including from mobiles);
  3. Contact with Choices is in confidence – they are not part of UK Border Agency.

For more information you can email me at jkadebola@hotmail.com or reach ABLE at Mayfair House, 14 – 18 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA. E-mail: info@ukableofficers.org. www.ukableofficers.org


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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Automatic settlement for skilled workers to end

Here’s another update from the UK Border Agency.

As part of the government's commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.

Immigration Minister Damian Green has today announced the government's response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK.

A new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently.

The new rules will break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever. Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. Skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.

Damian Green said:

'Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best.

'Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.'

The government intends to:

  • continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.
  • continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000.
  • allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.
  • make all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000;
  • allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a 12-month 'cooling off' period;
  • retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to 6 months' stay with no right to change employer;
  • retain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker - International agreement), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle.

The government also plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.

The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system. The changes announced today will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.

Full details of the proposals, a summary of responses to the consultation, and Damian Green's written ministerial statement can all be found on the Home Office website.

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Helpline for Irregular Migrants launching this month

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is launching a helpline to assist undocumented migrants in the UK.

Please read on for further information.

"JCWI is delighted to announce the opening of a new advice line – for undocumented migrants in London.

Undocumented migrants do not fall into any of the UK’s legal immigration categories. This includes migrants who entered the country through an irregular channel or do not possess valid documents, migrants who have overstayed their visas, migrants with rejected asylum applications or cases where refugee status was revoked.

One of thousands

Abla (not his real name) is just one of the thousands of migrants who could have benefitted immensely from receiving advice on his irregular immigration status. When Abla was eight years old, his father brought him to the UK, and left him in the care of a family friend. Abla is now nineteen. Having spent the last eleven years in the UK, he completed his primary and secondary schooling here, excelled in extracurricular activities and even secured a place at a UK university. It was only last year, when filling out a student loan application that Alba discovered his irregular migration status – he had overstayed his valid visa.

Even though Abla cannot be held responsible for the decisions that adults made for him while he was a child, the UKBA has decided to reject his application to remain in the UK and has requested that he return to Ghana. Having long-lost all ties with his home country, not only does Abla have nothing to go back to, but the life he has worked so hard to secure for himself is being forcefully taken away. Abla’s story is a case in point for why an advice line such as ours has the potential to change lives. Had Abla received advice on regularising his immigration status before the age of eighteen, his chances of being granted leave to remain would have been significantly higher. We know of many other cases like Abla’s in the UK, in the hundreds if not thousands.


Over half of irregular migrants in the UK are believed to live in London. These individuals will now have access to a completely free, completely confidential advice line. Through this service we hope to help so-called irregular migrants to regularise, thus making a huge difference to their lives.

There are an estimated 400,000 irregular migrants in the London area. Thousands of other migrants may be on the verge of irregularity due to increasingly restrictionist immigration policies. JCWI is aware that many such individuals are hesitant to disclose their status due to fear of detection. As one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in society, irregular migrants are often unaware of services that may exist to benefit them. The JCWI advice line will address this by offering free advice and assistance regarding their legal status and by referring individuals to outside services better suited to meet their particular needs.

Making a difference

Funded by the Trust for London, the advice line will give irregular or undocumented migrants an opportunity to contact a legal advisor to receive free and confidential advice. Although it would be dishonest to claim we could secure status for anyone, there are irregular migrants who, with the right advice and advocacy, will be able to have their status in the UK assured. The implications for employment, housing, education and access to other rights and services is potentially huge. If we are not able to take on a case, we will instead direct individuals to affiliate organizations providing advice to undocumented migrants on services ranging from health care to housing. The JCWI advice line has the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Information gathered from the advice line calls will also provide JCWI with much needed information on the needs of the irregular migrant community and will give us a better understanding of the nature and scale of the problem. The information we receive will subsequently be used for policy development purposes. While a regularization scheme is not currently on the Government’s agenda, the data we gather can be used to provide services better-suited to the needs of irregular migrants, and inform other policy developments.

You Can Help

A major challenge in making this project work for the people it is designed for is raising awareness and the profile of this service. We ask all our members and readers to help achieve this – by spreading word of the helpline, copying the leaflets and publicity we are producing and getting the message to where it counts.

The advice line launches on Monday 27 February 2012 and will be available for use between 10am and 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays".

Article written by Svetlana Sytnik, who is currently working in the communications department at JCWI.

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