Realism and justice needed to shape future immigration system

The rule of law depends on an immigration system that is fair and fit for purpose, the Law Society of England and Wales said, following publication of the government’s Immigration White Paper.

“Britain’s future immigration system must be as fair, robust and transparent as it is streamlined,” Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said.

“The root causes of systemic failures in our immigration and asylum system need to be addressed before any future system can be built that is fit for purpose and able to manage an increased number of applications.”

There will be significant short-term additional burdens on UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) when several million EU citizens living in the UK seek to settle their status, as well as a longer term rise in future applications from EU citizens.

More businesses, many of them small, will need to access the sponsored workers and proposed short term workers schemes, creating additional financial and administrative burdens and placing additional strain on the system.

Christina Blacklaws added: “There are some promising indications in the White Paper, but a lack of substance underpinning them. The legal profession needs more information if we are to provide useful, informed advice to government.

“Some proposals imply a considerable administrative burden that may be unworkable. For instance, a short-term working visa scheme as outlined would be dependent on negotiating reciprocal agreements with multiple countries, robbing the system of the flexibility needed to deal with a Brexit of any kind.

“Solicitors, charities and the media have long reported unreliable decisions and huge delays in many areas of immigration – from business and worker applications to family cases.

“It is difficult to imagine how a system which is on its knees today can be transformed into the streamlined, quick and easy framework envisaged by the White Paper.

“A comprehensive review of Home Office processes and the culture driving decision-making is essential so that people navigating the system in future can have confidence that they will get a timely, well-considered and fair decision.

“More than ever the UK needs an immigration and asylum process that is fit for purpose, fair, lawful, and provides timely, consistent decisions for all applicants and their families.”

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