Making immigration work
Making immigration work in the national interest can be ensured by bringing down net migration to sustainable levels, while still attracting the best talent the rest of the world has to offer, said Home Secretary Theresa May in a recent speech at the Policy Exchange.
The speech discussed measures the Government has taken, and plans to take, to make sure that the UK immigration system works in the country’s national interest.
Mrs May considered the reasons why immigration control was necessary, and highlighted action taken with regard to family visas, work visas and student visas.
She stressed the need to “make sure that people in emerging markets continue to see Britain as a place to visit and do business”, and highlighted China as one of the priorities in this area.
In fact the UK Border Agency has recently announced a package of further enhancements to the UK visa service, to help with this.
It believes that the visa service is already delivering well, with 50% of visas processed within five days and 97% within 15 days, but customers have apparently asked for a fast, transparent, simple and easy to access service which is tailored to their individual needs.
Visa services changes
The Government therefore plans to introduce a number of changes as part of a programme of continual improvement to the visa service. These changes include:
● A Simplified Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) process: including shortened online application form and streamlined requirements for ADS customers.
● Assistance for business: a business network has been established, with dedicated Embassy staff to assist businesses with their UK visa requirements.
● Passport pass-back: a service for business travellers and ADS tourists which allows customers to keep their passport while their visa is being processed. This means they can travel or apply for another visa if they need to, reducing the time it takes to get two visas.
● Visa training for agents: a new online visa training module for the Brit Agent network in China so they can better assist Chinese customers wanting to travel to the UK.
● Convenient biometric capture: a mobile biometric service which will be available to applicants who wish to have their biometric information taken at a location more convenient to them, rather than visiting a visa application centre.
● Priority visa eligibility: expanded to include Tier 4 students and those who have previously travelled within Schengen.
● Improved application processes: improvements to the online application process (in April 2013) including the introduction of translated application forms.
● An enhanced Select Business Scheme: the enhanced scheme will remove the onerous reporting requirements that have made it cumbersome and bureaucratic for many companies.
Making immigration work
“With work visas, if you have the skills we need and a proper job offer, you can come to Britain,” said Theresa May. “If you have an investment or a business idea to bring here, you can come to Britain.”
“We’re proving that it is possible to get the immigration system to work in our national interest,” she concluded. “We are bringing down the numbers to sustainable levels, and we are continuing to attract the brightest and the best talent from around the world.”