Sanwar Ali: additional reporting and comments
UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, will announce that refugees arriving in the UK via an approved route will be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The plans will form part of a new system that Patel has described as ‘fair but firm.’ Under current rules, refugees can remain in the UK for five years before being allowed to apply for ILR.
The new proposals overall are likely to make things worse for prospective refugees. There will be more restrictive rights of appeal and it seems that those claiming asylum who do not gain entry to the UK using "legal routes" will be treated more harshly.
Patel said that the new system will give refugees the opportunity to find stability and rebuild their lives in Britain. In a statement issued by the Home Office, the government agency said: “Priority will be given to refugees, including children, in regions of conflict and instability, instead of those already in safe European countries.”
Patel said: “Our New Plan For Immigration will make big changes, building a new system that is fair but firm. We will continue to encourage asylum via safe and legal routes whilst at the same time toughening our stance towards illegal entry and the criminals that endanger life by enabling it.”
Won’t happen overnight
However, the Home Secretary was quick to stress that not all of the reforms will happen overnight. She said: “We will need to stick to the course and see this New Plan For Immigration through.”
News of Patel’s plans come following speculation that she is considering processing asylum seekers away from the UK, with Gibraltar and the Isle of Man among several locations being considered. However, Gibraltar was quick to say that it would not participate in the plans.
Details of the New Plan For Immigration come after the government provided sanctuary to more than 20,000 vulnerable people fleeing the conflict in Syria. The UK government says that it ‘remains committed’ to resettling refugees escaping persecution, oppression or tyranny.
It’s understood that the new plan will have three key pillars:
To improve the fairness of the system so those in genuine need of asylum in the UK are better protected and supported.
To deter illegal entry into the UK with the aim of breaking the business of criminal smuggling networks and protecting the lives of people that are endangered by such gangs.
To deport people more easily who have no right to be in Britain.
Fast track appeals process
Patel’s proposed new system aims to end the process of foreign criminals frustrating the removals system by continuously lodging appeals for protection.
People will be served with a new Priority Removal Notice, at which point they should raise all protection claims so that all issues can be considered together, including grounds for asylum, human rights and modern slavery.
Meanwhile, refused asylum seekers will be subject to a fast-track appeals process to ensure that people can access justice, while reducing time spent on baseless claims and appeals.
Judges presiding over asylum cases will also be instructed to give ‘minimal weight’ to evidence raised by an asylum seeker raised later in the process – unless there are exceptional circumstances. The new system will demand a higher standard of proof.
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