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The government claims to be winning the battle to lower immigration figures

It was widely reported in the UK press that the number of people who come to live in the UK for the long-term and the number who are leaving fell from 242,000 to 183,000 in the year leading up to March of 2012.


The fall was attributed to a drop in the number of foreign nationals studying in the UK. Although the current Coalition Government set a target to reduce the annual net migration figure whilst still in opposition, this is the first fall since 2008 – 2009.


Over that period, inward migration to the UK fell by 42,000 to 536,000. Non-EU nationals settling in the UK went from 317,000 to 296,000.


The immigration minister Mark Harper commented that their policies were finally taking effect and this was in line with their policy of bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.


On a different subject, here’s a quote from the House of Lords (Hansard):


I agree with my noble friend that no area is more complex than the whole business of the Immigration Rules and the procedures surrounding them.”


The quote was made during a debate to amend the change to the Immigration Rules that will end the right of appeal against family visit visa refusals. Sadly, the amendment wasn’t passed, and the right of appeal will soon be scrapped.


Lord Taylor of Holbeach said (amongst other things):


Clause 26 removes the right of appeal against the refusal of a visa to visit family members, except where the appeal is brought on racial discrimination or human rights grounds. I had hoped that in the five months since we considered this matter in Committee, and in the light of the arguments that we advanced then, the Government would have had second thoughts about this clause. It is disappointing to see no sign of that on the Order Paper.


I shall explain why we felt the need to return to this matter. The Government's hostility to the right to family life is exemplified by the making of new Immigration Rules making it far more difficult and expensive for spouses and elderly dependent relatives to join heads of households in the UK, reducing the number by an expected 35%, over which the Immigration Minister is already crowing. Clause 26 turns the screw further by preventing appeals that would have been successful under the law as it now stands. I pointed out in Committee that if the argument for Clause 26 was that the number of appeals had risen to far greater levels than were expected when the right of appeal was restored in 2000, as was argued before the Home Affairs Select Committee, the obvious remedy was to get UKBA's decisions right in the first place. Almost one-third of them are overturned, according to my noble kinsman Lord Henley in Committee, involving the taxpayer in a great deal of unnecessary expense. My noble kinsman said that taking away the right of appeal would lift the burden of processing 50,000 appeals from visa staff, but that was based on the assumption that officials would continue to reject bona fide applications at the same rate as they have in the past. We are told constantly that UKBA is undergoing processes of reform, which will enable them to be more accurate in the first decisions that they make.


After the case of Alvi, which your Lordships have discussed, the information required to be submitted with the visa application is now set out in detail in the rules themselves, so that in theory, there should be fewer cases where an applicant has omitted a particular document. However, considering the volume and complexity of the rules, which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Lester on the previous amendment, it is inevitable that some applications will be refused for that reason. The Government suggest that persons who have omitted a document should put in a new application rectifying the omission at a cost of £78. That may be a trivial sum to my noble friends on the Front Bench, but it is a lot of money to a poor farmer in Gujarat or Sylhet.”