Immigration

The Government believes that immigration has enriched our culture and strengthened our economy, but that it must be controlled so that people have confidence in the system. We also recognise that to ensure cohesion and protect our public services, we need to introduce a cap on immigration and reduce the number of non-EU immigrants.

  • We will introduce an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit.
  • We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
  • We will create a dedicated Border Police Force, as part of a refocused Serious Organised Crime Agency, to enhance national security, improve immigration controls and crack down on the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs. We will work with police forces to strengthen arrangements to deal with serious crime and other cross-boundary policing challenges, and extend collaboration between forces to deliver better value for money.
  • We support E-borders and will reintroduce exit checks.
  • We will apply transitional controls as a matter of course in the future for all new EU Member States.
  • We will introduce new measures to minimise abuse of the immigration system, for example via student routes, and will tackle human trafficking as a priority.
  • We will explore new ways to improve the current asylum system to speed up the processing of applications.

View the Governments response to these comments

Your comments (382)

  1. Chris says:

    I always hear ‘officials’ state how much wealth immigrants bring to the UK. Not once has anyone provided data to back this claim up. Everyone I know, from friends and family to work colleagues, want much less immigration. We value what the UK is and has been, we all see it gradually being ruined by the influx and the change of values and attitudes that go to make up our national character. Too much too fast, and the changes being made are irreversible. In years to come the national will regret these current times and everyone involved in making decisions of immigration will be to blame.

  2. Mrs T Hills says:

    I have nothing against immigration per se; 200 years ago my family were immigrants from Europe – but when they got here, they simply got on with life and made a living for themselves. As has already been commented, why do so many people want to come here anyway? The answer being the care that we give people. I agree with the suggestion that the NHS should be paid for by those who are not citizens, apart from those reciprocal arrangements within the EU catering for those simply visiting other countries.
    Regulation needs to include those from within the EU, as this seems to be where the majority of immigrants are coming from.

  3. mary steven says:

    the uk is an island
    we are full and bankrupt
    i have no objection to anyone who has a right to be here coming regardless of race, colour or culture, but we need to stop all others coming to this country
    as soon as they arrive they are entitled to benefits
    do you think this would happen to us in any other country – even in europe
    we are the laughing stock of the world.

  4. Colin says:

    We can’t as a country provide sanctury to everyone, even if they live in fear at their home country, we haven’t the space, and we are not the world’s social welfare state.

  5. ray says:

    Nothing in these proposals will stop immagration from other member states which is the biggest cause of immigration.

    THe only way to solve the problem is to make clear to the EU that they either allow us to opt out of the EU open borders or we will have to withdraw from the EU.

    This is the only way to get control of our borders again.

    The Goverment should also make it clear that we will not allow countries to round up asylum seekers and point them at the chanel tunnel and that while we will take our fair share of those in need that we will no longer be the soft touch of europe and the destination of choice for asylum seekers.

    Introducing a bill so that those granted asylum are allowed to take jobs and pay taxes and are not allowed to claim benifits would be a good start.

  6. Sagar Shah says:

    If the coalition government really wants to usher in a “new politics” then it has to address the real issues.

    One of the key things that came up on immigration during the priministerial debates which none of the three candidates had a solution for is the uncontrolled immigration from mainland Europe. I demand that the coalition commit itself to solving this problem as well as immigration from outside the EU. To treat Commonwealth citizens as second class compared to European citizens is not only biased but ridiculous given that it was on the Commonwealth’s back that Britain built its fortune.

    Economic migrations from outside the EU work hard and pay taxes, and when they go home they have no rights on Britain. EU migrants can leave the UK but still claim benefits from the UK rather than their native country. A much larger percentage of migrants from the EU have poor English skills when compared to migrants from countries like India, the West Indies, Canada, America, South Africa and Australia. Please please please don’t start implementing prejudicial policies.

    There is a way to keep our ties with the EU but still protect British jobs for British people and only import workers where we need staff. We have to change our agreement with the EU to continue to allow freedom of movement within the EU for tourism, individual commuting, and short term business (<30 days) but require work permits for economic migrants from the EU. If the same conditions are imposed on our own citizens then that's fair and it's not really a bad thing. I'm not saying we shouldn't allow economic migration from the EU, but simply if the migration cap is a serious attempt to address immigration it needs to apply across the board and not just for non-European non-white people.

    I completely support your plans to bring back exit checks and have a proper border enforcement agency. The key thing though, is that these things need to be properly resourced and implemented in a way that does not slow down the travel of the majority of innocent people.

  7. Frank Edwards says:

    The Oz prime minister put it just about as well as it can be put. If you want to live here, learn English, abide by our laws, prove you have a job to go to, and swear allegiance to the queen. Our national religion is C of E, the queen is it’s head, live and let live in harmony . If you dont want to do that go and live somewhere else.

  8. Thank you for agreeing to end the detention of children.
    Please reconsider returning children to Afghanistan.

    Given the continuing tenor of the comments in the media and on this site, please give thought to clarifying the UK’s commitment to giving sanctuary to those who need it, and helping people make the distinction between forced and economic migrants. We have (rightly) given sanctuary to refugees, but thereafter do not do enough to help individuals become part of our society. Which means that they become chronically excluded. Why are we not doing more to help those who were teachers, accountants, health professionals, engineers etc return to their profession here in the UK and become role models of achievement for their communities? Research from varying bodies has shown that the more people interact with each other, the more they understand each other and the less animosity is felt.

    The front-end process of asylum does need an overhaul. It would be helpful to consider the recommendations within the Still Human, Still Here campaign’s report, which also call for a restructuring. Ensuring that the right decision is made at the outset will significantly reduce the costs associated with appeals.

    http://stillhumanstillhere.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/at-the-end-of-the-line-2010.pdf

  9. Ian says:

    Whether it is considered ‘politically correct’ or not to point it out, there are many signs of militant Islam trying to get at least a foothold in the UK. (I say ‘militant’ to diffentiate them from the many non-offensive Muslim citizens living here.) Anyone preaching views (usually of hatred) to upset our society should be banned from coming here, or deported if they are already in the UK. They have been given too much freedom and too many unwarranted privileges and protections over the past two or three decades. The proposed ‘mega-mosque’ for London is a blatently political scheme backed by very questionable groups aimed at increasing their influence over British society. Any decision about allowing such a scheme should be taken democratically and transparently at both local and national government levels.

    No further involvement with Islamic finance should be made without first an official in-depth study being made at govenment level of the history, principles and objectives of Shariah law, which is inseparable from Islamic finance. This is an alien culture to this country, which when given a free hand is very oppressive – as is seen from its rejection even in such Muslim dominated countries as Pakistan.

    Also, I believe that face-covering in publc should be outlawed. Not only does it pose a security risk as to the person’s identity, it also is an insult to a person’s humanity to have to (or even to choose to) hide their face. It is a relatively recent trend in minority Muslim circles, and is not an integral part of the Muslim religion.

    Thank you for the opportunity to have input to the new government’s thinking. It speaks well for their commitment to democracy.

  10. A Daglish says:

    Dear Sir,

    Can we stop all immigration forthwith and throw all the illegals out. Stop any illegal from claiming any benefits. They have no human rights to asylum as the law “which is never used” states that they must claim asylum a the first country they come to, this might stop the French from dumping their problems on us.

  11. By all means, prevent abuse of the student immigration route, but do it sensibly. It is wrong to make education providers conform to immigartion-influenced ideas of what is and is not bona fide education. The requirements of education providers to be accredited and registerd stifles competition and innovation in the education sector. The visa application process for students (with a 42 page equivalent application) that lasts for months and requires serious planning in advance is very counterproductive. Education is one of the last areas where Britain can punch some weight internationally, do not let immigartion concerns.

    Yes economic migrants should be revented from being able to come here as students. But the only effective way to achieve this is to be honest about the purpose of immigartion controls on foreign students. Rather than make education providers jump through various hoops and judging the quality of their provision, follow a much more simple solution – only let those students come who are paying a certain amount for their education, say £10,000 a year or £15,000 and use this as the only criteria for the immigartion decision. Give the education providers freedom to change there programmmes at will, let the genuine foreign students be able to come here at the drop of the hat rather than spend months on the visa application process. How many economic migrants will spend that sort of money simply to come and be a waiter here?

    Restrict foreing students’ ability to stay here beyond the duration of their studies. Kick them out afterwards and soon you will get many genuine opinion leaders abroad who like Britain and would like to make their countries similar to it. You will also help developing countries by training their young talent rather than draining them of it.

    Economic migrants are poor people who want to come to Britain to improve their life. It should be easy to get rid of economic migrants – do not let poor people in. Genuine foreign students are not poor people if they are willing to pay so much for their education. Do not stand in their way and do not make it complicated for them to come and support British educational sector. Do not let them stay afterwards and they will not take the jobs that locals can do.

    Oh, and while you are at it, get rid of the Office of the Immigartion Services Commissioner. Its purpose is to protect asylum seekers and such like (most of whom are economic migrants) from being taken for a ride by dodgy advisers. It costs 5 million a year to the taxpayer (to say nothing of the hidden cost of the totally unnnessary regulatory burden) and handles only about a 100 complaints a year. Why waste this money? And why make it easier for these economic migrants to come here? Why do it at the taxpayers expense? Or at the expense of those required to register with this Office?

  12. Amie says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with previous comments that immigrants would not wish to come to the UK unless there were substantial reason for them to do so – I can only imagine it is the promise of free healthcare and the seemingly “relaxed” policing controls over here coupled with possible traffickers abroad willing to tell potential immigrants wonderful stories of life over here, anything for them to receive large sums of money for bringing them over.
    I am a self confessed viewer of programmes on television such as UK Border Force and the like: although I can imagine this isn’t quite the full picture of the demanding jobs for policing our borders, I do however feel some frustration when the programme illustrates how the law makes it impossible to send any immigrants home without a passport. This not only makes it incredibly easy for immigrants to slip through our fingers, but seems to be playing into the hands of illegal overstayers. They know they can’t be sent home passportless and even go as far as to flaunt this to peturbed border officers.
    It is therefore my belief that laws should be relaxed to allow more confirmed illegal immigrants to be removed from the UK; this would decrease the amount of time enforcement officers had to spend searching for passports and mean more immigrants are effectively removed from the country.

  13. Paul W says:

    I believe we are now in the situation where we have over 2 million British citizens unemployed and, from reports, many many more people not working and receiving benefits, many of whom are capable of working. I have seen forecasts that the unemployment figure may increase as a result of the future (required) cuts in spending.

    At the moment we have non-EU immigration being restricted to required skills (apart from the students) due to skill shortages, and no restrictions on EU immigration.

    1. Non-EU immigration
    I am led to understand that numbers in further education are growing and have been for some time. Therefore I don’t understand why there are skill shortages. My suggestion is that government should work with further education to make sure that the education and training fills any skills gaps.

    2. EU Immigration
    I know we have signed up to the open door EU immigration policy, however, we have now come to the situation where recession has hit the UK, and with over 2 million British citizens unemployed, many more not working and livving from benefits, where we need to sort out our finances.
    My proposal is to stop the open door policy of EU immigration, and temporarily allow immigration for the skill shortage areas. I am sure the EU want Britain as a memeber and would prefer to keep uys with concessions, rather than lose us.

    3. Asylum Seekers
    I am also led to believe that many of our asylum seekers arrive via other EU countries, at that they choose not to claim asylum there as they have much better prospects in Britain.
    My proposal is for any asylum seekers who have their last port of call in another EU country, to returnm them to that EU country for them to claim asylum there.

    I feel strongly about this and beleive in the current situation where we have millions of people out of work, that we should stop all immigration apart from where it is critical, and start putting British citizens to work first.

  14. alan says:

    simple really..stop those who dont have work or approved and monitored education already organised from entering. Stop those seeking assylum who are simply wanting to escape their countries situation, only allow those who can prove they are in real danger of being assainated on return. Dont allow any from countries we are currently in conflict with ie afghanistan. track down and deport all who are here illegally. new laws must be made. Welcome those who can contribute but they must have at least five years of work here before they can take advantage of the welfare state..in other words they must contribute before they take out. ( including those from EU)

  15. Bryn Roberts says:

    Immigration is only half of the issue; the other half is the active deportation of those who are here unlawfully and who seem to spend years here without any interference from the Immigration Service. Perhaps if active deportations were undertaken, the level of immigration would not be as much of an issue?

  16. Mr D Singh says:

    In this economic climate, I do agree immigration does need to be controlled both from within the EEC countries and from outside Non-EEC countries. More immigration comes from within the EEC countries rather from the non-EEC countries.

    Also, brides/grooms that come to UK on basis of Marriage to UK Citizen should be deported back to their respective countries if there is clear evidence that they only married UK Citizen to gain entry to UK. There is currently lot of abuse of UK immigration Spouse Law, because their intention to enter UK and go under ground.

    Also, there are lot of brides that come to UK on basis of marriage and they make fabricated allegations against UK Spouse for purpose gaining ILR to stay in UK on domestic violence grounds. This gaining of UK Visa under the Domestic Violence is clearly abused by well known solicitors who are encouraging to their clients to make fabricated allegations against their UK spouse to stay in UK by making application for Visa under Domestic Violence grounds.

    To stop such practices in future, I suggest that the UK Border Force legal action against solicitors who found to be abusing the law and take strong action against such brides/grooms who abuse the UK Spouse Immigration law.

    The Coalition Government should also take action against bride/grooms who ends marriage with UK spouse very soon after they have gained their permanent ILR UK Visa. To stop such abuse, after the probationary period of two/more years, the UK Border force should issue ILR permanent UK visa with conditions. The conditions should be that if the marriage comes to end within two/three years of gaining ILR UK visa then the UK Visa should be cancelled immediately with the option of appeal process. The UK Visa should also be cancelled if it is clear that the bride/groom only married and stayed with UK spouse long enough to acquire their visa and once they had UK Visa then they ended marriage soon afterwards. This is clear abuse of UK Spouse Immigration law and it should be stop immediately. I understand, the Labour government was planning to bring in such laws to such abuse of the system.

  17. Gary says:

    We shouldn’t have to let in a number of immigrates each year. We should follow in the footsteps of Austraillia and let in people with trades that the country requires and not just any person who applys, they should have to offer a benefit to the country rather than just plant their bums on our benefits system and send all the money back to the rest of their families in order countrys. British citizenship should not be giving to anyone who hasnt worked in the country for at least 10 years. Only British citizens should be able to use our free health services and anyone without should have to require health insurance to use our services. They should abide by our language and culture if they are going to live here and stop critising the way we live, if they do not like it they dont have to live here!!!!!!!! A target should be set for the number of illegal immigrates deported each year and the results be published for everyone to see. Any illegal immagrant found should be sent straight back to their country on origin. We should also set a cap for EU immigration, as i am from northern ireland and alot of the immigrants here are from poland which is one of the poorer countries in the EU and they can freely move here and earn more on our benefits system without working or contributing to the state, they become a burden and everyday people who work hard and are now facing these awful spending cuts have to pay for them. They orginally came from somewere if they do not have a job and are not paying PAYE/NI they should be automatically deported. We already can not look after are own citizens without taking in everyone elses who are crippling our economy and increasing our nations debt to its current state! The Tory/LIb Dem coalition needs to learn from the mess that Labour made in immigration and increase the number of immigrates deported above the number let into the country each year to decrease our population within reason. These rules should be put into place for all immigrants applying for a visa. 1. They must pass an english speaking test, so they can understand english and speaking the language fulently. 2. They must be able to support themselves while they are here. 3. They shoud not be able to claim any money from the tax payer as they have not contributed to the budget and therefore should not recieve support. 4. They must be able to pay for their own accomidation for their stay. 5. They must check in with an immigration officier each month to ensure they are still here and the governement can track were they are. 6. If after 6 months they have failed to find a job there visa should be revoked and they will be deported. 7. They must put money into a seperate account which will cover the price of their flight back to their country of origin which will be used if they are to be deported. 8. If they get a job after 3 years the governemnt will return the money to the person.

  18. Sally Cooper says:

    We need to radically rethink the way that we treat people who arrive in this country fleeing persecution, only to face further abuse and discrimination here.

    There needs to be a clear distinction between asylum seekers and migrants and we need to stop assuming that anyone who comes here has done so in order to scam the country out of benefits.

    The fact is that most immigrants would gladly work or study on arrival here and that countries with a much smaller GDP than ours accept many more refugees and migrants than we do at present.
    Stop scapegoating people.

  19. jen says:

    as i understand it you can seek asylm in the FIRST safe country adjacent you arrive in.
    i did not think that this is England in most cases. they have to travel across many safe countries to get here. we need to look at the reason why… in France if you wish to claim their benefits you have to pass a spoken and written test whatever % you pass at is the ammount of benefit you recieve i.e 20% pass 20% benefits this is a good way to make sure that people who come here are able to work here andis an incentive to learn how to speak and write in the chosen country. but you should only be able to recieve full benefit entitlement if you have paid into the system.

  20. Mrs Y. Lang says:

    Immigrants should not be able to claim child/housing benefits until they have lived here & contributed to our society. Also should not be given priority housing due to the size of their family . They should be given food/clothing tokens 7 found the cheapest accommodation available until they have worked & waited their turn for homes like everyone else has to

  21. Simon says:

    Non EU immigrants accounted for 1 in every 8 immigrants last year. The plan is to cap non-EU workers – such as people from the USA, Canada, Australia etc – these are the people who bring a lot of skills into the UK. Capping 1 in every 8 immigrants, and capping the ones that are probably going to contribute to the most does not make sense to me.
    There needs to an even limit, if one exists at all, to include EU workers. You are penalizing a productive minority for the unskilled majority. I don’t mind immigration, but if you limit one, limit it all – especially the unskilled people!
    And it rubs it in even more that EU workers don’t have to pass and English test.

  22. Clo says:

    This programme appears to lack one fundamental element, that which should address demand. For as long as there will be demand for very, very cheap labour, there will be (poor) people attracted by what may look like a better life. Hence, those individuals and businesses who employ illegal immigrants, thus creating demand, should be targeted (they clearly aren’t at present) and rightfully punished, for breaking the law and because such employment situations are often nothing else than modern forms of slavery, and this should not be tolerated by a country like England.
    As for demand of legal immigrants, maybe it is about time to really tackle the problem of minimum wage versus accumulated benefits to ensure that working can be more attractive than not for British people.
    And finally, education, education, education… for employers need qualified people, including people with multi language fluency skills.
    I fear the proposed programme is incomplete as it does not target root causes of the problem, it will cost a lot to implement, and will not deliver value for money in its achievements. It is an answer to what some voters asked for, but not the right answer to the problem.

  23. Bobby Stodel says:

    it is a waste of money to reintroduce passport officials on people departing the country. Rather get the airlines to collect the information, like they do in the US.

  24. Barry Stevens says:

    Millions can be saved by central and local government if public documents were not translated into so many languages (Welsh excluded). As long as this practice continues non-English speakers will not learn the language of his country.

  25. R says:

    We need immigrants as many British people are unwilling to take on certain jobs, never mind the skills shortage. Can we really persuade British people to work in agriculture and kitchens in the same way? However they should not be allowed to claim benefits in the same way as British. I am glad children will no longer be detained – they haven’t done anything wrong! I am fed up of the negative attitude and comments towards hard-working immigrants.

  26. kevin says:

    Immigration should be awarded on a points system only those who have the suitable skills the UK whilst capping the possible numbers as well. Longer term these skill should be addressed buy funding training programs as we are now looking at high unemployment so funding should be given for training existing residents. A fund should also be available for those who wish to leave the country as well, weather illegal legitimate or of British nationality we have too many people here.

  27. Jacky Potter says:

    Stop all immigration immediately to give us some breathing space to absorb the huge numbers of people who have arrived over the past 13 years. Tighten up all entry points into the UK. Rebel against the EU, and curb economic migration from Eastern Europe. Refuse entry as students anyone coming from a country that we would not be able to deport them back to, including Pakistan. Repeal the HRA and set up quickly a British Bill of Rights which allows us to deport foreign criminals. Continue to tighten up rules on marriage. Stop all translation services immediately – which must cost a million or two per year.

  28. Annie says:

    Immigration as enriched our country for many generations.
    But we now must look at reducing the amount of people we now allow into the country. Many have spoken about the UK bursting at the seams, Yes it is true, but we no-longer have the system to support immigration at this time. We are broke and can no-longer support the current population as it stands and grows.
    Why to people cross a large number of safe country borders to come to the UK?
    For most we are a soft haven for a better life with no imput to the uk economic structure.
    Except for those true few who come to improve their lives and add to society. but how do we chose. Australian immigration laws have been mentioned above, Yes we need the tight laws that the Australian governments have adopted to improve it’s own society.NOW

    But those who break the law and languish in comfortable jails( why not deport once sentence is passed, straight back to their homeland on the quickest flight available. No claim for human rights-what about the victims right no thought was give to their human rights when the crimes were committed. (How much money would this save the country? freeing up space in jails for our own criminals and making society safer for it’s citizens, also )

  29. Sarah Bernard says:

    Very simple we are a small island with many towns very overcrowded – no wonder people get irritable – no space. We need a policy to protect the nation and its people. It is changing too fast to allow social cohesion.

  30. Catherine Beer says:

    I’m so tired of the rampant overt racism which has become a cultural norm. The ludicrous scaremongering against foreigners and asylum seekers in the media should be strongly challenged. I don’t expect the government to ever behave in this way, but it would be hugely refreshing to have politicians speak about the BENEFITS Immigration has brought to this country and the future need for immigrants too. The level of islamophobia in the UK has also become embarrassing and distasteful.

  31. Liz says:

    I am an immigrant. I am married to a British citizen, I speak English, I pay taxes on a good wage, I raise my British/American children here and they will go to British schools.

    It has neither been easy, nor cheap to stay in the UK and I would like the government to make it clear to the public that immigration standards are high and expensive and not just anyone can come here and “live off the NHS”. I do a shortage job and therefore offer a skill that many UK citizens do not have. Please do not put hard-working immigrants, who abide by the laws and contribute to YOUR society and receive no benefits in the same category as benefit fraudsters and criminals. There is a difference and I fear that many, including the right-wing media are confusing genuine immigration through the Home Office with asylum seekers, who should also be allowed to stay if they are truly being persecuted in their countries.

  32. Danoel says:

    Talking about Immigration without talking emigration is not balanced. Where are the British people emigrating to. There are also natives in those places and I don’t think they are treated with such contempt as the British treat non-Eu migrants. We all have a duty to protect our borders but the process must be done sensitively to avoid creating a situation where neo-mugabeism and hatred of foreigners is fostered around the world. The policy on immigration is driven by institutional racism and not by real sentiments of affected communities. A cap on non-EU migrationn is an acceptance that non-EU migrants are too visible because of their colour and therefore an eyesore on white britain. Politicians must be careful because right-wing neo-nazis are watching this. You do not want politically and racially motivated killings to take root in this country.

    There is continued emphasis for immigrants to integrate into british life. What a load of nosense! Which british way of life do you want them to integrate into; spitting and littering? teenage pregnancies? vandalism? chavvy attitudes? young girls stripping in city centres? rowdy and yobish behaviour? throwing sickies? laziness? I can go but if this is what you call british way of life, then a lot immigrants would never let their children or themeselves to integrate into such way of life. Britishness is a fallacy only proclaimed by those who live in the victorian surbuban tree-lined neighbourhoods. The chavs who live on housing estates are yet to taste what other wish was a british way of living. Dream on!!