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Youth mobility scheme

The Youth mobility scheme replaces a number of routes for young people coming here to work temporarily, of which the biggest is the working holidaymaker scheme.

It will allow young citizens of, initially, four countries (Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand) to come to the UK and work for two years. All these countries have their own schemes that allow young Britons to spend time in their countries. Their nationals pose a minimal immigration risk, and they meet the UK Border Agency’s strict criteria for co-operating with us when we seek to return their citizens. If other countries meet our criteria and wish to join, they can be added at a later date.

Temporary workers

The route for temporary workers, known as tier 5 (temporary workers) allows certain people to come here and work temporarily to meet cultural, charitable, religious or international objectives.

As with tier 2, all applicants will need a licensed sponsor. They will also need to fall into one of five subcategories, covering creative and sporting workers, charity workers, religious workers, people coming on Government authorised exchange schemes and people coming here under various international treaties to which the UK is a party.

This is a temporary route. Therefore, anyone coming here under it will be restricted to either one or two years in the UK, depending on the subcategory under which they are coming. The only exception to this is for the private servants of diplomats, who will be allowed to stay for up to six years.


I have set the fee for tier 2 (skilled workers) at £205 for entry clearance and £400 for leave to remain. This is broadly in line with our previous fees before the PBS. They are set above the cost of providing the service, to reflect the enhanced benefits and entitlements this route brings to applicants.

I have set the fee for tier 5 temporary workers and youth mobility at £99 for entry clearance. Leave to remain applications in tier 5 (temporary workers) will cost £100. Again, these fees are set broadly in line with our previous fees before the PBS. The lower fees for tier 5 fees are set below the cost of providing the service, to support wider Government objectives to ensure we continue to attract migrants to the UK for cultural reasons.

Business, sport. entertainer and special visitors

To complement PBS, we are implementing the first part of our review of the visitor route. This is intended to remove the existing uncertainty about exactly what visitors coming to the UK on business can engage in without needing to apply under the PBS.

The rules do this by providing for the UK Border Agency to produce a list of “permitted activities” which business visitors may do, thus facilitating business activity in the UK and avoiding abuse of the visitor route by people who are really coming here to work.

I am also taking this opportunity to bring the existing concessions covering sportspeople coming to take part in one-off events or tournaments, or entertainers coming, for example, to perform at festivals, into the immigration
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rules. This simplifies the system by creating a clear boundary between the activities that a visitor may undertake and those for which permission is needed under the PBS. I am also bringing together, under a special visitor category, currently separate rules that have been introduced for specific types of visitor.

Increase in the marriage visa age from 18 to 21

This change follows the consultation we launched in December 2007 on reform of the spouse visa system. We gave careful consideration to the consultation responses and the views expressed by the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report on domestic violence, forced marriage and honour-based violence before setting out our conclusions in July this year, including the commitment to increase the minimum age.

The change reflects our firm conviction that no one should be pressurised into sponsoring a marriage visa and that those who wish to sponsor a marriage partner from overseas should be encouraged to establish an independent adult life here first and to see that as an important way of helping their partner to integrate.

We believe it is important to protect young people from being forced into relationships they do not want at a time in their lives when they could be establishing a degree of independence as an adult through further education or through work.

Biometrics and photographs

We are changing the rule relating to the quality of photographs required with applications. This is in line with the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and is necessary to allow the UK Border Agency to utilise facial recognition technology, to reduce the risk of identity fraud, to prevent immigration abuses and to improve the processing of applications.

Retired persons of independent means

We have made it clear that in the future there will be only three key routes to naturalisation as a British citizen: economic migrants, family members and refugees—those granted humanitarian protection. It is therefore important to pay close attention to all the different routes that have existed in the past and as part of the consultation “The Path to Citizenship: Next Steps in Reforming The Immigration System”, we asked whether the retired persons of independent means route should be abolished taking into account the requirements relating to entry under the route.

We recognise that those entering under the retired persons of independent means route are required to be self-sufficient. But, as was pointed out during the
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consultation, these people may not have enough disposable income to match the demands they may place on public services. In the light of this, and the limited numbers applying under this route, we believe it is right to no longer permit entry as a retired person of independent means. We will therefore amend the immigration rules to this effect by deleting paragraphs 263-65.


These changes are the latest steps in the Government’s bold and far-reaching reform of the immigration system, and will contribute to delivering the tough but humane immigration controls that the public demands.


Criminal Cases Review Commission (Appointment of Chairman)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): I would like to inform the House that Richard Foster CBE has been appointed as chair of the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Copies of the press release relating to this appointment are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Children and Adoption Act 2006

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, and I wish to make the following statement about the implementation of part 1 of the Children and Adoption Act 2006.

We will bring the remaining provisions in part 1 of the Act (sections 1-5 and 8) relating to new powers for the courts to order “contact activities” to assist people in resolving contact disputes and new enforcement powers on 8 December 2008.

The new arrangements will extend to England and Wales and have been agreed by Welsh Assembly Government Deputy Minister for Social Services (Gwenda Thomas).

Some provisions in part 2 of the Act, relating to adoptions with a foreign element, are already in force. The provisions relating to the restrictions of adoptions from abroad came into force on 1 August 2008. We are working to a longer timetable for the implementation of section 13 and will announce this in due course.

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