The UK will block visas for foreign visitors if the Home Secretary finds they refuse to cooperate to take back asylum seekers or failed offenders.
In the bill released on Tuesday, Priti Patel and future Secretaries of State would have the power to suspend or delay the processing of applications from countries that do not “cooperate with the UK government in removal from the UK. nationals of this country. who need a permit to enter or stay in the UK but do not have it ”.
The nationality and borders clause of the bill also allows the Home Secretary to impose additional financial requirements for visa applications – i.e. an increase in fees – if countries do not cooperate not.
The proposals reflect US law that allows officials to withdraw visa routes from countries that refuse to take back undocumented migrants; it is understood that countries like Iraq, Iran, Eritrea and Sudan are reluctant to cooperate with the UK on such issues.
The reform is one of many in the bill, dubbed “the biggest overhaul of the UK asylum system in decades” by Patel, which includes measures such as:
- Asylum seekers deemed to have arrived illegally in the UK will no longer have the same rights as those who arrive in the country through legal channels. Even if their application is successful, they will be granted temporary refugee status and face the risk of indefinite removal.
- Asylum seekers may be deported from the UK while their asylum application or appeal is pending, opening the door to asylum treatment abroad.
- For people deemed to have arrived illegally, access to allowances and rights to family reunification may be limited.
- The appeals and judicial procedure will be reformed to speed up the dismissals of those whose applications are rejected.
- The Minister of the Interior will be able to offer protection to vulnerable people in “immediate danger and at risk in their country of origin” in exceptional circumstances. It is believed that this will be used to help a small number of people.
- The system will be made “much more difficult for people to obtain refugee status on the basis of unfounded claims” and will include “rigorous age assessments” to prevent adult migrants from pretending to be children. The government is considering the use of bone scans to determine age.
- Life sentences will be applied as the maximum penalty for smugglers.
- Foreign criminals who break deportation orders and return to the UK could be jailed for up to five years instead of the current six months.
- A new one-stop-shop legal process is proposed so that asylum claims, human rights claims and any other protection issues are presented and considered together prior to appeal hearings.
Campaigners have dubbed the bill the “anti-refugee bill,” saying it will penalize those most in need of help.
Analysis of Home Office data by the Refugee Council suggests that 9,000 people who would be accepted as refugees under current rules – those who are confirmed to have fled war or persecution in the following official checks – may no longer be safe in UK due to method of arrival under reforms.
The director of the charity, Enver Solomon, said that for decades people had taken “extraordinary measures to flee oppression” but had become “law-abiding citizens, abiding by the rules and paying their taxes. that proud Brits “.
Steve Valdez-Symonds, director of the refugee and migrant rights program at Amnesty International UK, called the bill “legislative vandalism”, said it could “fatally undermine the right to asylum” and accused Patel of a “shameful dereliction of duty,” adding: “This irresponsible and deeply unfair bill should put Britain’s international reputation to shame.
While Sonya Sceats, Executive Director of Freedom from Torture, called the plans “dripping with cruelty” and “an affront to the good people of this country who want a kinder and fairer approach to refugees.”
More than 250 organizations – including the Refugee Council, British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Refugee Action and Asylum Matters – have joined together to form the Together with Refugees coalition to call for a more effective, fair and humane approach to the human rights system. UK asylum. .