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UK to toughen border controls even further

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The United Kingdom is toughening its borders in an effort to combat illegal immigration and fraud. New immigration reforms include increased checks on everyone before they enter Britain, new fines for sponsors of overstayers, higher age limits for foreign marriage partners, and an overhauled visa regime.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne unveiled the new measures on 28 March 2007. "The days when border control started at the white cliffs of Dover are over. Our immigration control needs to start well before people come anywhere near British shores," said Byrne.

Within two years, a new scheme will be introduced that will check passengers against watch-lists before they get on a plane bound for the UK. There will also be a shake-up of the visa regime in which a new waiver test will assess a country's risk of illegal immigration from the 169 nations outside of Europe. The new test is to be implemented by the end of this year. It will assess such factors as terrorism risk and criminal activity, as well as willingness to take back immigrants who are deported from the United Kingdom.

Sponsors of migrants will face a £1,000 fine if an overseas family visitor or staff member overstays their visit. Also, families who sponsor people who overstay will be banned from bringing other members of their family into the country. Employers who breach the new rules will be barred from hiring overseas staff and students in the future.

Further, the UK will raise the minimum age for marriage visas from 18 to 21 in an effort to curb forced marriages, with the reasoning being that a person would have time to finish their education and gain maturity before coming to the UK. They will also be required to pass an English language test before entering the country.


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