Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Asylum applications continue to fall

HOME OFFICE News Release (090/2007) issued by The Government News Network on 22 May 2007 Quarterly Asylum, Accession Monitoring and Citizenship Statistics

Asylum applications for the first quarter of this year have continued to fall, according to statistics published by the Home Office today. The figures show that 5,680 asylum applications were lodged in the first quarter of 2007. This represents a ten per cent fall in applications compared to financial year 2006/7 and the previous financial year, giving the lowest yearly intake since 1993. The top applicant nationalities were Afghan (755), Iranian (600) and Chinese (480). The statistics also demonstrate that, including dependants, 3,370 failed asylum seekers were removed between January and March 2007. Overall this indicates a four per cent fall in removals between the financial year April to March 2005/06 and 2006/07, as the Border and Immigration Agency changed gear to prioritise removing the most harmful foreign nationals first. Management statistics indicate that deportation of foreign national prisoners (FNP) almost doubled in Q1 2007 when compared to Q1 2006. To accelerate the removal of failed asylum seekers the Home Office today proposed to Parliament a further ten countries to which individuals with clearly unfounded claims can be returned before they are entitled to appeal their asylum decision. This raises the number of countries on the UK's non-suspensive appeal list up to a total of 24. All asylum seekers from Bosnia, Mauritius, Montenegro and Peru who are refused asylum following a clearly unfounded claim will have no right of appeal in the UK. The same rules will apply to male asylum seekers with clearly unfounded claims from the Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali and Sierra Leone. Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: "Stronger border controls have helped make sure the number of unfounded asylum seekers continues to fall. There are now fewer people than ever coming to the UK and making unfounded claims for asylum. Applications are down 75 per cent since intake was at its peak in 2002. "Here in the UK, we have delivered the change of gear we promised by deporting the most harmful foreign nationals first. Nearly 1,000 (925) FNPs were removed in the first three months of 2007 compared with 495 for the same period in 2006. "In the year ahead we will set-up effective action against those who make unfounded asylum claims. By adding these ten countries we are ensuring these claims are processed quickly, and that failed asylum seekers in these cases are removed as swiftly as possible. "By shifting the right to appeal to outside the UK while tightening our borders through juxtaposed controls, biometric visas and the use of new screening technology at our ports, we are making it harder than ever to come to Britain and abuse the system. "We are confident that we will remain in a position this year where removals of asylum seekers will exceed unfounded claims on a sustainable basis." Also published today are the first figures for the number of Bulgarians and Romanians registering to work in the UK. They show that between January and March 7,935 had their applications granted, with 5,075 being allowed to access the labour market, 2,660 registering as self employed and 200 registering as self-sufficient. An additional 2,425 successfully joined the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme (SAWS). Bulgarians and Romanians are coming to the UK to work - contributing to the success of the economy and working as teachers, social workers, in business and in the entertainment and leisure industry. Alongside today's A2 figures the Home Office is also publishing figures on the number of individuals registering to work in the UK from the eight East European countries which joined the EU in 2004. The accession monitoring figures show that between January and March this year the number of individuals who applied to work under the scheme fell by 16,000 from the previous quarter to 49,000. Mr Byrne said: "While it remains too soon to evaluate the full impact of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU the early indications are that our policy of restricting access to the UK's labour market is helping to ensure that only those who have something to offer the UK are allowed to work here. "We will continue to monitor how restrictions are working but will also look at other indicators. That's why we are creating an independent Migration Advisory Committee to look at how migration can sensibly fill skills shortages and, alongside it, a Migration Impacts Forum to monitor the wider social impacts of immigration. "It is clear from the A2 Worker Registration Scheme figures that migrant workers from the accession states are filling skills and labour gaps. But the restrictions we introduced were right. We need to maintain progress on our immigration reforms and understand the transitional impacts from January and 2004's accession before we take the next step. "The message is clear - while we welcome those who are here to work legally bringing their skills and expertise and benefiting our country, those who don't have permission to work here won't find a job." The annual citizenship bulletin, also published today, reveals that 149,035 people applied for British citizenship in 2006, a fall of 32 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of grants of citizenship was five per cent lower than in 2005. Citizenship ceremonies were introduced in the UK in January 2004 and, since November 2005, applicants have been required to demonstrate a knowledge of English and of life in the UK. Mr Byrne said: "British citizenship is a privilege and it is right that it should be recognised and celebrated as a crucial stage in a person's integration into British life. It's also essential that migrants wishing to live in the UK permanently recognise the responsibilities that go hand in hand. Requiring a good grasp of English ensures that they are able to play a full role in society and properly integrate into our communities."

Source: PR Newswire : Asylum applications continue to fall