What is the UK Government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’?
The New Plan for Immigration policy paper sets out the Government’s intentions to build a “fair but firm” asylum and illegal migration system. The policy paper states that the New Plan for Immigration has the following three major objectives:
- To increase the fairness and efficacy of our system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum;
- To deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger; and
- To remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here.
The Government’s policy statement was accompanied by an engagement and consultation process that ran for six weeks, from 24 March 2021 to 6 May 2021.
Key parts of the New Plan for Immigration
Some of the headlines of the policy statement are:
- Building a new immigration system that is fair but firm;
- Continuing to encourage asylum via safe and legal routes, strengthening support by offering an enhanced integration package to those arriving in this manner and immediate indefinite leave to remain in the UK for resettled refugees;
- Toughening the stance against illegal entry and the criminals that endanger life by enabling it;
- Taking steps to discourage asylum claims via illegal routes, as other countries such as Denmark have recently succeeded in doing;
- Increasing the maximum sentence for illegally entering the UK and introduce life sentences for those facilitating illegal entry; and
- Ending the use of hotels to accommodate arrivals and bring forward plans to expand the Government’s asylum estate to accommodate and process asylum seekers including for return to a safe country.
For the first time, whether asylum seekers have entered the UK legally or illegally will have an impact on how their asylum claim progresses and on their status in the UK if that claim is successful.
Those who prevail with claims having entered illegally will receive a new temporary protection status rather than an automatic right to settle, will be regularly assessed for removal from the UK, will have limited family reunion rights and will have no recourse to public funds except in cases of destitution.
The Government has recently published its response to the consultation for the New Plan for Immigration, which underpins the new Nationality and Borders Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on 6 July 2021.
The consultation response states the consultation has shown there is some support for the three major objectives listed above. However, the responses sent into the consultation also show that around three quarters of those who responded said they opposed many of the policies set out in the New Plan for Immigration and a similar view was also taken by those with direct experience of the asylum system.
The Government has stated in its response that having considered the findings from the consultation, “the Government recognises that building a system that is fair but firm will require tough decisions, some of which may be unpopular with certain individuals and/or groups.”
The areas from the consultation that the Government have stated will require closer consideration as part of any further policy implementation and operational planning include:
- There being a general lack of detail and explanation of the policies, and an evidence base for these;
- The ‘fairness’ elements of the new plan not being sufficient or balanced, when set against the ‘firm’ elements;
- The potential for the plan to contribute to greater inefficiencies in the system;
- The potential for equalities impacts and needing to adjust existing safeguards and protections in the system to support those who may be vulnerable; and mitigate against any potential unintended consequences; and
- The requirement for improved guidance and/or stronger operational processes.
The consultation response goes on to state: “These are issues of importance which the Government will keep under review during the passage of the Nationality and Borders Bill and as part of ongoing work, including with stakeholders.”
If you would like advice on what these changes mean for you or your business, please get in touch with our Immigration team.