Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 12


The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000 provide the means whereby greater operational flexibility may be introduced. This legislation, combined with the enhanced powers to require passenger information provided by the Immigration (Passenger Information) Order 2000 will enable the Immigration Service to identify and expedite the movement of large numbers of genuine passengers and to deploy staff more effectively, so freeing resources to focus on those who seek to undermine or circumvent the immigration control.

  The Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000 provides for leave to be given, refused or varied before the person concerned arrives in the United Kingdom or for leave to be granted in alternate ways on arrival. This will enable the Immigration Service to pre-clear low risk groups of passengers, such as tour groups or cruise ship passengers or to deal with them in a more flexible way on arrival, thereby providing an enhanced service to passengers and carriers and freeing resources to concentrate on more productive areas of work. Under this Order, notice of the decision to grant leave to enter may be given in writing, by facsimile, electronically or, in the case of visitors, orally. The notice may be given to a responsible third party, such as a tour operator, a port manager or owner or agent of a ship, aircraft or train. The power to grant oral leave to visitors could, for example, be used to clear coach passengers as a group without the need for each passenger to disembark and be examined individually by an immigration officer. In addition, the legislation allows for immigration officers to operate the control abroad where this offers an advantage, though such an arrangement would require both the agreement of the host government and possible enabling legislation in the country involved. One of the major advantages of the legislation is that it provides for the control to keep pace with future developments in technology, for example in using means of identification such as biometrics (the electronic storage of a person's physical characteristics, such as hand geometry and eye scanning) which will enable passengers to pass through electronic controls.

  It is essential that the use of these flexible arrangements should not compromise the effectiveness of the control. There must be judicious use of risk assessment techniques, supported by an intelligence led approach to passenger traffic.

  The ability to grant or refuse leave to enter in advance of arrival relies on the Immigration (Passenger Information) Order 2000 which empowers an immigration officer to require carriers to provide advance passenger information. Provision of this information (which comprises name, date of birth, gender, nationality, document number and document type), will enable the Immigration Service Manager to make a risk assessment of the passengers and will inform his decision on whether pre-clearance or expedited clearance is an option. It is not intended to impose a general requirement on carriers to provide this information. It will only be requested when a particular service has been identified as appropriate for flexible clearance. We believe that this will work to the advantage of the carriers and the travelling public alike.

  In addition under the passenger information order, an immigration officer may require a carrier to provide access to information held in carriers' booking systems. Access to this information will enhance the intelligence effort to achieve more effective targeting of racketeers, facilitators and those who seek to undermine the immigration rules.

  Part II of the Order allows for an entry clearance to have effect as leave to enter. Provided that practical arrangements are in place, this will apply to new style entry clearances issue from 30 July 2000 onwards. At present, anyone applying for an entry clearance in order to travel to the United Kingdom has the application considered by an entry clearance officer (ECO). Having satisfied the ECO and been issued with an EC, the holder travels to the UK where he/she is interviewed again by an immigration officer. By providing for an entry clearance to have effect as leave to enter, this duplication of work will be eliminated. The new visas will bear the conditions attaching to a person's stay in the UK. The immigration officer will however retain the power to examine an EC holder on arrival where this appears warranted and, where appropriate, will be able to suspend the leave conferred by the entry clearance.

  Part IV of the Order makes provision for leave to enter or remain not to lapse on departure from the Common Travel Area. This measure, which will come into force on 30 July 2000, will apply to persons given leave to enter for more than six months. It is anticipated that it will expedite the clearance of long-term work permit holders and students. As with holders of the new style visas, an immigration officer will have the power to examine passengers with continuing leave if appropriate and to suspend the leave should it appear right to do so. This and the provision for visas conferring leave to enter will obviate the need in most cases for further interview and the stamping of documentation. Both allow for rapid clearance at the immigration control and promise substantial time and resource savings, with improved service to passengers.

  The secondary legislation, providing the powers to commence implementation of all these measures on 30 July 2000, is now in place having completed its passage through Parliament on 28 April 2000. Work is being overseen by the Flexibility and Passenger Information Project to ensure that staff in the UK and abroad are trained, that the new visa vignettes will be in readiness and that the necessary upgrading of the Port Administration System will have been completed by the target date. It is now intended to move towards resourcing to risk by way of a new project designed to identify the necessary structure and mechanisms required.

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