Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday (Monday 19 July) announced strengthened support for refugees in genuine need as part of the second reading of the Nationality and Borders Bill.
The Bill follows the government’s fair but firm New Plan for Immigration, first published in March 2021, that set out the most radical changes to the broken asylum system in decades.
As part of the proposals, access to the UK’s asylum system will be based on need, not the ability to pay people smugglers.
For the first time ever, the way people enter the country will have an impact on their asylum case, and priority will be given to the most vulnerable rather than individuals that could have claimed asylum elsewhere.
It will prioritise those in most need of protection through safe and legal routes, while stopping the abuse of the system and removing those with no right to be in the UK.
Speaking as the Bill returned to Parliament, Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
We are strengthening the safe and legal ways in which people can enter the UK – adopting a fair but firm approach.
From today I am granting indefinite leave to remain to refugees resettled under our world-leading resettlement schemes.
Giving them the vital freedom to succeed from the moment they arrive in our country.
And importantly offering certainty and stability to help them rebuild their lives from day one.
Because that is the right thing to do.
From October, refugees resettled into the UK will be granted indefinite leave to remain on arrival in the UK.
The UK Resettlement Scheme, which launched in February of this year, is the main way that vulnerable people in need of protection can get sanctuary in the UK in a safe and legal way.
Currently, refugees resettled under the UK Resettlement Scheme receive permission to stay in the UK for 5 years, after which they can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
The first refugees resettled by the UK Resettlement Scheme arrived in March and anyone already resettled under this new scheme will have the option to acquire indefinite leave to remain, free of charge.
The Home Secretary will also announce a pilot of an emergency resettlement mechanism, to begin this autumn.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) will identify refugees in need of emergency resettlement from anywhere in the world, for example, those who require urgent medical care or who are at imminent risk of being returned to a country where they face persecution or harm.
The emergency resettlement mechanism will work in much the same way as the UK Resettlement Scheme, but at shorter timescales, to enable quick resettlement to the UK in a matter of weeks.
In a bid to support highly skilled people who have been forced to flee their homes, the Home Secretary is also expected to reveal plans for a new pilot scheme to help them get a UK work visa.
Over the next two years, up to 100 people from Jordan and Lebanon will be helped to get sponsored by a UK employer and apply for a visa under the UK’s points-based immigration system.
The pilot is in addition to our resettlement schemes, and will focus on those working in industries where there are shortages, such as engineers and IT professionals. Applicants would need to speak English and be able to secure a job offer.
The pilot is being run in partnership with the charity Talent Beyond Boundaries who already work in Australia and Canada on similar schemes. Findings from this pilot will be used to inform what more support can be provided to highly skilled displaced people going forwards.