Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where are they? 181,000 with expired visas are still in Britain

Around 181,000 migrants are thought to be living in Britain unlawfully after their visas expired, a report said last night. The total includes students and workers from outside the EU who should have left the country in the last two-and-a-half years.

UK Border Agency bosses came under fire from MPs after admitting they have no idea how many have returned home because they do not count people out of the country. A new system to monitor electronically everyone who departs will not be fully in place for at least another two years.

The report, by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, warned the agency not to use the lack of exit controls as an ‘excuse’ to ignore thousands who are overstaying illegally.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: ‘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.’ The report also raised fears that British workers may be missing out on jobs because some foreign workers are exempt from the Government’s immigration cap.

Tens of thousands of non-EU workers who arrive every year through the ‘intra-company transfer route’ are not counted as adding to the official limit.

Instead they must comply with a salary minimum, set at £40,000 for anyone staying over a year, to ensure they are not simply cheap replacements for British staff.

Many are IT workers transferred in to work in multinational companies. Last year 64,000 workers came in via this route. But the committee said there was a ‘lack of control’ over transferred workers. Employers can pay up to 40 per cent of salary as accommodation and other allowances, but the report said this made it hard to be sure what the workers were actually earning.

Mrs Hodge added: ‘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.’

She also criticised the agency for a lack of checks on employers. Fewer than one in five businesses are visited before being granted a licence to bring in workers.

The cap on the number of non-EU workers was imposed from the start of last month, and will allow 21,700 workers in over the year, a cut of one fifth.

After wrangling within the Coalition, however, Business Secretary Vince Cable won an exemption for transferred workers. He also won concessions which watered down reforms to the student visa system.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘This report demonstrates why the immigration system needs radical reform.

‘This Government has already introduced an annual limit on economic migrants. We are making it more difficult for people to live in the UK illegally by taking action against employers that flout our rules.’


Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. Visa Security (Testimony)

2. USCIS Moves (gasp!) to Upgrade Arriving Immigrant Populations (Blog)

3. Ethnic Politicking in El Paso (Blog)

4. Only 30% of Americans Agree with Obama that Border Is Secure (Blog)

5. No Taxpayer Dollars for Sanctuary Cities, States, or Federal Agencies (Blog)

6. DHS Raids Social Security System and Zaps U.S. Workers – Again (Blog)

7. Huffington Post Skips E-Verify (Blog)

8. The Startup Visa Fraud (Blog)

9. Measuring Border Security (Blog)

10. Honduran Woman Tries to Deport Her Own Mother (Blog)

11. Credibility Gap (Blog)

12. Obama's Amnesty Speech (Blog)

13. The Outcomes of 'Comprehensive' Reform (Blog)

14. A Roundup of H-1B News (Blog)

15. Refugee Resettlement: No Easy Solution (Blog)

16. How One Illegal Outwitted Federal, State Authorities for 30 Years (Blog)

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