Green says government making it tougher for illegal migrants
18th May 2011: Damian Green has reiterated that the government was making it tougher for illegal migrants by taking action against employers flouting rules.
Green was responding to a House of Commons report. He insisted the report brought to fore exactly why the government was making radical changes to the immigration system.
The report into the government’s points based system by the Public Accounts Committee looked at how the UK Border Agency kept track of migrants, and whether the different visa routes into the UK worked sufficiently.
It also examined the intra-company transfer visa route which gives multi-national businesses the chance to bring their existing foreign staff to the UK to fill temporary skills gaps.
The Home Office claimed: `Since the committee’s investigation last year, the new government has overhauled the system – with tough enforcement against those who break the rules, and a shake up of the work and student routes into the country’.
Acknowledging that these changes were necessary, the minister said he was determined to make it as difficult as possible for people to live or work in the UK illegally.
‘This report demonstrates why the immigration system needs radical reform,’ said Green.
‘This government has already introduced an annual limit on economic migrants, including a significant tightening of the ICT rules, and sweeping changes to the student visa system. Later this year we will propose a shake-up of the family and settlement route.
‘I want enforcement and compliance to be the cornerstone of our immigration system and we are making it more difficult for people to live in the UK illegally by taking action against employers that flout our rules.
‘Any employers found to be abusing our immigration system risk losing their license to sponsor any migrant workers.’
The report, published by the Committee of Public Accounts, on the basis of evidence from the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, examined the management of the work routes of the Points Based System for Immigration.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, had asserted: "The Points Based System, introduced to manage economic migration from countries outside the EEA, is better than the visa system it replaced. But there is still a good deal of room for improvement.
“We are concerned at the lack of control of workers entering Britain through the intra-company transfer system. This allows multinationals to transfer their workers to the UK and is not covered by the immigration cap. Most workers enter through this route and, for instance, tens of thousands of IT workers have been brought in through intra-company transfers at a time when UK residents with IT skills are struggling to find work.
“The Agency has not got a grip on making sure that migrant workers whose visas have expired actually leave the UK. It estimates that 181,000 such workers are staying on without permission – but it can’t even verify the figures, and does not try to enforce the employer’s duty to ensure that the people they bring in leave when they are required to do so”.