Clause 19

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:00 pm on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 7:00 pm, 13th March 2007

As I have said, it will be clear exactly what is required for each tier. If an applicant still has difficulties it will be possible, ultimately, to make contact, but we want a clearer, more streamlined system. We want to stop the situation in which the appeals process is simply an extension of the application process.

If it is very clear what evidence should be submitted with an application, I do not think that there can be a reason that is acceptable at appeal for an individual to appear suddenly with the evidence that they were asked to submit at application. Of course, that will not stop people having the ability to reapply, as long as they are in time to do so. If they submit an application but do not provide the evidence that is requested and have their application refused, if they are in time they can submit a further application and that application will not be prejudiced by the outcome of the previous  application. That is the appropriate measure, as long as it is absolutely clear to the applicant what is being asked of them.

Of course, we want to ensure that there are a number of safeguards and clause 19 already contains a number of safeguards that will ensure that we do not cause an injustice, which covers the hon. Gentleman’s other point.

Where IND case workers believe that a document is not genuine or valid, the applicant will be able to submit evidence to try to rebut that allegation and thus clear their name. In those circumstances, for example, it is possible to submit further evidence. However, where an applicant is trying to demonstrate that they meet the clearly stated requirements, it is not appropriate that further evidence should be given at appeal. Application is about deciding, on the evidence that the applicant has submitted, whether a decision can be made. Appeal is about deciding, on the basis of the evidence that the applicant has submitted, whether an unfair or wrong decision has been made. At the moment, appeal is often used simply to submit evidence that should have been submitted with the initial application and we want to move away from that situation. In order to do so without creating injustice, we want to make it absolutely clear to applicants exactly what evidence they need to submit.

Regarding the point that the hon. Gentleman raised about difficulties with different qualifications, he will be aware that in tier 1, for instance, which is for highly skilled migrants, the only measure is the qualification at degree level. So, it is absolutely clear; if you are a highly skilled migrant, the qualification is a degree, and what is the level of the degree? In tier 4, for students, qualifications are assessed by colleges themselves, not by the IND.

The hon. Gentleman asked about people who apply to study at colleges that are not on an approved DFES register, but which are added to the list after an application is made. That question seems to be connected with applications for entry clearance. If an applicant was using the pre-checking online system prior to making an application, it would be clear to them that their application would be refused. In that situation, the applicant would be clear that they should not be applying until the college is added to the register. That is the way that the system should work. So the pre-application online system will assist individuals in not submitting an application that will be refused, by making it absolutely clear whether or not they meet the criteria.