Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Council decision on UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions

The Government has taken the decision not to opt in to EU Council Decision on UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion on machine-readable travel documents for refugees and stateless persons.

The UNHCR Conclusions urge States who have not yet done so to take necessary measures to introduce machine-readable Convention Travel Documents for refugees and stateless persons lawfully staying in their territory at the earliest convenience. The Conclusions also encourage existing national systems for civil documentation to include refugees and stateless persons and to limit fees for refugees and stateless persons. They commit Member States to further strengthening international solidarity and burden-sharing to facilitate the transition to machine-readable travel documents to refugees and stateless persons. The EU Commission published a Council Decision seeking agreement to an EU position supporting these Conclusions.

The UK already offers travel documents to recognised refugees and stateless persons which exceeds the recommendation to issue machine-readable travel documents. Home Office travel documents are machine-readable and also include a biometric chip that contains a digital facial image of the document holder, similar to the British passport. Furthermore, the UK already complies with the points on costs of refugee travel documents; we align with the 1951 and 1954 UN Conventions which state that signatory states should charge no more than is charged for a national passport.

The Government is committed to taking all opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis, putting the national interest at the heart of the decision making process. As the UK is compliant with the Conclusions, the UK has decided not to opt in to this Council Decision.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS329
WS
Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, copies of which will be available in the Vote Office.

The offer the UK makes to highly-skilled international leaders in science, research digital technology and the arts is being enhanced by doubling the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) places to 2000 visas per year.

As announced in the Autumn Budget, and to support our ambitions on innovation and research and development, the changes also include provisions to enable internationally recognised global leaders in science, as well as those in digital technology, and the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) route, to apply for settlement after 3 years, amend Tier 2 rules to allow for faster switching for Tier 4 students below PhD level, while also making it easier to employ international researchers and members of established research teams by relaxing the labour market test under Tier 2. The changes also provide for additional flexibility within our settlement rules to enable scientists and researchers who are called to assist with humanitarian and environmental crises to be absent from the UK for more than 180 days, if required.

The changes make other amendments to the settlement rules for work routes, for consistency. These relate to the 180-day absence provision, breaks in employment, time spent in the Crown Dependencies, and the calculation of the qualifying period.

The rules for entrepreneurs are being simplified following customer feedback, to make them clearer and easier to follow (the requirements themselves are largely unchanged).

We continue to improve and modernise the UK’s border and immigration system, which will now include moves toward further digitisation. These changes are required to facilitate the planned move toward introducing immigration permissions issued in electronic form. This will also allow trials to be undertaken that will test the operation of any new system. The rules are also being changed to permit holders of standard visit visas to transit the UK rather than having to get a different type of visa. This builds on the work, begun in April 2015, to simplify the Immigration Rules for visitors.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS319
WS
Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

The National Transfer Scheme

The Government remains committed to helping and supporting children in need of international protection. In the year ending September 2017, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to almost 9,000 children and nearly 49,000 children since 2010. Last month, we published a safeguarding strategy which sets out our vision and commitment to caring for and supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. We look forward to working with partners to implement the actions in that strategy.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK in recent years and this has placed pressure on a small number of local authorities; particularly those - such as Kent and Croydon. On 1 July 2016, the Government launched the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The NTS is a voluntary scheme that supports local authorities to transfer responsibility for unaccompanied children who are already in the UK to another local authority. The scheme seeks to achieve a fairer allocation of caring responsibilities across the country so that all children get the care and support they need.

The NTS has made significant progress. As at 1 October 2017, the scheme had transferred 555 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to other local authorities. The Government is very grateful for the way that participating local authorities have volunteered to care for unaccompanied children through the NTS. However, it is clear that there is more to do to ensure that no local authority is asked to look after more children than its local services can cope with and that the children receive the right level of care. There are approximately 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in local authority care in England and a small number of local authorities continue to look after a disproportionately high number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The NTS is underpinned by provisions in the Immigration Act 2016. However, these provisions currently only apply to English local authorities, which makes it difficult for the other nations of the UK to participate.

I am pleased to be able to announce that the Government is introducing secondary legislation to extend the NTS to the whole of the United Kingdom. The statutory instrument provides a legislative base for transfer arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will allow the relevant authorities in each nation of the UK to participate in the NTS and ensure it is a truly national scheme. The NTS is voluntary and participation will remain a decision for each respective authority. We are committed to working closely with relevant authorities and partners to ensure the NTS takes account of the unique circumstances in each nation of the UK. However, we hope that by introducing this statutory instrument, we will encourage more local authorities to step forward and volunteer to support these children.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS318
WS
Home Office
Made on: 30 November 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Grenfell Tower fire

I wish to inform the House that I am today introducing changes to the dedicated immigration policy for residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell walk.

First, I am extending the dedicated immigration policy for survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The extension will allow survivors who have not yet come forward to do so by 31 January 2018. Providing survivors with an additional opportunity to come forward to regularise their immigration status is consistent with the Government’s objective to ensure all those directly affected receive the support they need.

Second, having reviewed the impact of the policy over the last four months, I have also decided to extend its scope to enable any Grenfell survivor with valid leave in another category to switch into the dedicated leave outside the rules policy by 31 January 2018. Individuals will no longer need to demonstrate that their leave is due to expire in the next 12 months or that they cannot qualify under another immigration route in order to be eligible under the Grenfell Tower immigration policy. They may wish to seek independent legal advice as to whether switching or remaining in their existing immigration route is the best option for them.

Finally, I have carefully considered the issue of access to public funds and I would like to provide reassurance to those who have leave in another category, such as family or work, but who qualified under the Grenfell Tower immigration policy for a change of conditions. I am announcing today that they will continue to have recourse to public funds and permission to work for as long as they qualify for leave to remain in the UK.

I hope this announcement provides further reassurance that the welfare of those directly affected by the fire is the Government’s top priority. Anyone who has not yet come forward can do so before 31 January 2018 by calling our Home Office Grenfell Team on 0208 196 4531 and arranging an appointment to speak to a member of our dedicated team in person.

Revised guidance with further details on the Grenfell Tower immigration policy which reflect today’s announcement will be published in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS293
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 October 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Grenfell Tower Fire

I wish to inform the House that I am today introducing a change to the dedicated immigration policy for residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk.

The Government has been clear that its priority is to ensure that survivors of this tragedy get the access they need to vital services, irrespective of immigration status.

On 5 July, we announced that those individuals directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire who contact the Home Office via a specified process will be given a period of limited leave for 12 months to remain in the UK with full access to relevant support and assistance.

Our initial response to this terrible tragedy was rightly focused on survivors’ immediate needs in the aftermath of the fire and ensuring they could access the services they need to start to rebuild their lives.

However, since the Grenfell Tower immigration policy was announced, we have been planning for the future of those residents affected by these unprecedented events and listening to their feedback, as well as the views of Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

The Government believes it is right to provide the specific group of survivors who are eligible for limited leave to remain under the dedicated immigration policy greater certainty over their long-term future in the UK, subject to their continued eligibility and the necessary security and criminality and fraud checks being met.

That is why I am announcing today that those who qualify for leave to remain under the Grenfell immigration policy for survivors will now be provided with a route to permanent settlement in the UK.

Eligible individuals, who have already come forward or do so by 30 November 2017, will be granted an initial 12 months’ limited leave which will be extendable and lead to permanent residence after a total period of five years’ leave granted under the policy, subject to meeting security, criminality and fraud checks.

I also wish to inform the House of additional support for relatives of survivors or relatives of victims of the tragedy who have already been granted entry to the UK for reasons relating to the Grenfell tragedy. The changes I am announcing today will enable relatives to stay in the UK for up to six months from their date of entry. This new dedicated immigration policy allows relatives who have come to the UK and who were initially granted less than 6 months’ leave in order to provide a short period of support a survivor or to arrange the funeral of a family member to extend their stay to 6 months in total.

Anyone who believes they are eligible for either scheme can speak face-to-face to a specialist Home Office team at The Community Assistance Centre, 10 Bard Road, Nottingdale, West London, W10 6TP.

There are existing immigration policies which allow us to consider compassionate circumstances where someone is not covered by the bespoke policies for survivors and relatives and any such applications would be considered on a case by case basis.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS158
WS
Home Office
Made on: 20 July 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Introduction of a modified process for newly naturalised passport applicants

I am writing to advise you that Her Majesty’s Passport Office are introducing changes to their interviewing processes.

HM Passport Office reserves the right to call any passport applicant for an identity interview. However, where the identity of a newly naturalised British citizen can be confirmed using records already held by UK Visas & Immigration, they will not be routinely required to attend an interview as part of their first UK passport application.

The new process maintains our high standards of identity assurance but removes an unnecessary burden on newly naturalised citizens by no longer requiring them to confirm their identity twice to the Home Office before being issued with a UK passport.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS97
WS
Home Office
Made on: 20 July 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 290).

The purpose of the changes is to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment in MM (Lebanon) & Others, handed down on 22 February 2017.

The changes, together with changes to the Secretary of State’s guidance to decision-makers, are intended to give effect to the judgment’s findings in respect of, firstly, the income sources which may be relied upon to meet the minimum income requirement in specified exceptional circumstances; and, secondly, the duty to have regard to the welfare of children under section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. They also make other minor amendments and clarifications to the family Immigration Rules.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS96
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 July 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Grenfell Tower fire

I wish to inform the House that I am today introducing a policy on leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules for residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk.

The Government has been clear that its priority is to ensure that victims of this tragedy get the access they need to vital services, irrespective of immigration status. The Home Office will not conduct immigration checks on survivors and those coming forward to provide information to assist the authorities in their enquiries. However, we recognise that some foreign nationals directly affected by the fire may not wish to engage with the authorities due to concerns about their unresolved immigration status, or if their status is about to expire. I am therefore announcing today that those individuals directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire who contact the Home Office via a specified process will be given a period of limited leave to remain in the UK with full access to relevant support and assistance. This will be done by using discretionary powers to grant leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules for a temporary period of 12 months and without a condition precluding recourse to public funds. I will place a copy of the policy document in the House Library.

This period of leave will provide survivors with the time to deal with the extremely difficult circumstances in which they find themselves and start to rebuild their lives whilst considering their future options, as well as to assist the police and other authorities with their enquiries about the fire. No fees will be charged by the Home Office in respect of cases granted leave under the policy.

Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the Government is there for them at this terrible time and we will continue to provide the support they need to help them through the difficult days, weeks and months to come.

The policy will be kept under review and will remain in place until 31 August 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS29
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