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migrants who have overstayed their visas, migrants with rejected asylum applications or cases where refugee status was revoked.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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Friday, 17 February 2012

Institute of Directors attacks crackdown on foreign students and Post Study Work visa abolition

Came across an interesting piece written by Charles Kelly on “Immigration Matters” and couldn't resist the urge to share it with you. Please read on and feel free to comment on it.

“UK government measures to close the Post Study Work visa route thereby restricting work foreign students can do following graduation is a “retrograde step” that will undermine Britain’s higher education sector, a leading business group has warned this week.

Simon Walker, Director General of the influential business leaders group Institute of Directors (IOD), blasted the moves saying:

“It is pure sophistry to manipulate immigration figures by shooing to the door highly-trained international students with MBAs to make way for unskilled migrants from the EU.”

So called ‘unskilled’ migrants from EU countries such as Poland and newer members from Bulgaria and Romania (on which work restrictions are imposed until 2014) might argue that they are often better educated and more highly skilled than the local work force.

The popular Post Study Work (PSW) visa scheme closes on April 5th 2012 and this is the last date that graduates, most of whom will graduate in July, can make an application.

The idea of the PSW and its processor schemes is that bright graduates would be given a chance to stay on in the UK and find employment.

Hundreds of Immigration Matters readers have posted comments complaining about the sudden withdrawal of PSW when many had invested over £30,000 at UK Universities. Many are also bitter about the date of withdrawal in April when very few of the current years students would have received certificates.

Earlier this week Immigration Matters reported that Under New student visa rules announced, which will take effect in a few weeks time, only graduates who have a job earning more than £20,000 a year from an approved employer may stay in the country after completing their studies.

Graduates with £50,000 to invest in a business may obtain an entrepreneur visa to stay, but in practice it is expected that this will only apply to a small number migrants.

On Tier 4 students from Middle Eastern and emerging market nations, Mr Walker added: “Other countries welcome such students: Britain makes it difficult and artificially expensive for them to enter, and now proposes to eject them ignominiously when their studies are finished.”

UK Universities support the IoD, as they have resisted attempts to reduce the number of foreign students. These make a substantial contribution to their incomes – 9.6 per cent of the higher education sector’s income in 2009-10 came from fees paid by non-EU students.

The universities are lobbying to have students removed from the migration statistics altogether. But Damian Green, immigration minister, said on Monday: “While many think of students as temporary visitors, around 20 per cent of student arrivals were still in the UK five years later.”

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Biometric residence permits are being introduced for more immigration categories

Here's another update from the UK Border Agency.
"From Wednesday 29 February, all applicants in the UK will need to obtain a biometric residence permit if they are applying to stay here for more than 6 months. This includes applicants for permission to settle here (Known as 'Indefinite Leave to remain').

To obtain a permit, applicants will need to enroll their biometric information (fingerprints and facial image).

If you are applying in the UK on or after this date (whether applying by post, in person or online), you should use the correct application form. Please pay careful attention to the date shown on the cover of the application form.

If you are applying in person at one of our public enquiry offices under our premioum service, and you have booked as appointment on or after 29 February, you must bring the correct form with you to avoid delay".

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Monday, 13 February 2012

New student rules to welcome the brightest and best while tackling abuse

The Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today new rules designed to welcome to the UK the brightest and best brains from around the globe.

The new rules that is expected to come into effect around 6th April 2012 is meant to tackle abuse of the student visa route and ensure that only the brightest and best students are allowed to stay and work in the UK.

We have been expecting something like this to happen since the Post Study Work route, which currently allows students to work in the UK for 2 years after their studies, is scheduled to be phased out in April 2012.

The new rule is a selective system of sort that will allow only the most talented International graduates to apply to stay in the UK to work.

The new rule, according to the Minister, is designed to “reform the system to deliver immigration to benefit Britain”. He also continued in his statement that “Only those who graduate from a university, and have an offer of a skilled job at a salary of at least £20,000 (or more in some cases) from a reputable employer accredited by the UK Border Agency, will be able to continue living and working in the UK in order to benefit the British economy”.

According to the Immigration Minister, “The rules are part of a radical overhaul of the student visa system, which will:
·         encourage growth - a new Graduate Entrepreneur route will open, with up to 1,000 places for students working on world-class innovative ideas who want to stay and develop them but do not meet the requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route;
·         boost the economy - young entrepreneurs or small company directors will get the chance to stay on in the UK after their studies if they have £50,000 to invest in their business;
·         ensure that students can support themselves - for the first time since 2008, there will be an increase in the amount of money that students and working migrants (and their dependants) must prove they have to support themselves financially during their time in the UK; and
·         tackle abuse - restricting work placements to one-third of the course for international students who are studying below degree level will ensure that those coming to the UK are here to study, not to work (as was often the case in the past). Additionally, the time that can be spent studying at degree level will be restricted to a general limit of 5 years”.

All prospective international students as well as those already in the UK are strongly advised to seek for legal advice before making or submitting any application to the appropriate authorities.

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