Recently the Guardian newspaper reported on an exhibition entitled South Asians making Britain: 1858-1950 which featured a plethora of personalities from the colonies who contributed to Britain’s economy, society and politics. In the 1950s immigration from the Commonwealth was not only favoured it was also induced by Britain so that foreigners could come here to do the work that their earlier colonial masters did not want to do. In those days empire’s connection to the Commonwealth was quite vibrant and it had not been repudiated by the Britain’s newer commitments which she has contracted more recently under her European obligations.
Now so many decades later in the aftermath of empire the home secretary has suddenly decided that settlement applications in the UK for temporary entrants will be deleted from the immigration rules. She said that:
“It is too easy, at the moment, to move from temporary residence to permanent settlement.
“If people enter this country saying that they will only stay here temporarily, then it is obvious that they should only stay here temporarily.
“Working in Britain for a short period should not give someone the right to settle in Britain. Studying a course in Britain should not give someone the right to settle in Britain.”
Contrary to the home secretary’s view settlement applications are not at all easy at the moment. Under the rules students must exhibit their presence in the UK for 10 continuous years and under this route a migrant is expected to hold a valid visa throughout the ten years. See entry here. Alternatively, under the 14 year rule an applicant may have gaps in their leave to remain. These are hard tests to satisfy and in a significant number of settlement matters caseworkers are unable to apply the rules correctly. To further complicate the rules will mean that the UKBA will have to train its staff better which is an expensive proposition in the age of the Spending Review. Workers, of course, must be present in the UK for a period of 5 years to be eligible for settlement. This requirement is subject to applicants paying either tax if they worked or fees if they studied. Moreover, one must also pass the LIUK test!
The Agency’s data in relation to settlement from its fourth largest trading partner Pakistan discloses that the fact that in 44% of the settlement cases from that country entry clearance officers refused entry clearance to would be settlers. This figure is up from 22% which was the norm of the day when the UK made immigration decisions on site in Pakistan but these operations were shifted to Abu Dhabi and London (settlement only decisions) following the Marriott hotel bombing in 2008.
The Agency reported that 9,000 settlement applications from Pakistan in the year 2009. These are decided in a unit in London whereas the rest of the 90,000 applications for work, study and visits are decided in Abu Dhabi. These are the Agency’s own statistics which conflict with information published by the Guardian.
In relation to the quality of decision making the Agency remained “disappointed” that “the Independent Chief Inspector found deficiencies in the use of evidence in decision-making.”