Clause 19

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 15th 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 9:45 am, 15th March 2007

I think I should just answer a few of the points that the hon. Gentleman raised with me earlier before I am overtaken by the paper that is flowing towards me at a satisfying rate of knots.

The purpose of the points-based system is to make the application process much simpler, so reducing the scope for error—a point that has been much raised from the Opposition Benches. Applicants will be told what they need to submit as evidence, and if they do so they will get the points. There will therefore be less scope for discretion and thus less scope for error. I disagree that the changes will require applicants to seek legal advice earlier in the process; in fact, quite the opposite. As the hon. Member for Hertsmere quoted me as saying, they will introduce more objectivity and much less subjectivity into the process, which can only be a good thing.

We are always open to representations from all individuals involved in the process, but I do not agree with the views of the anonymous individual that the hon. Member for Ashford gave us the benefit of hearing. Obviously, everything is subject to review, but  it is not our view that the highly skilled migrants programme is working in the way that the anonymous evidence-giver appeared to say.

Much was said about the requirements under the points-based system. The question was asked, what exactly will they be? The exact requirements have not yet been finalised, but the revised immigration rules for the highly skilled migrants scheme set out the sort of evidence that we are likely to require from highly skilled migrants under tier 1 of the points-based system, which will replace that scheme. That includes such things as degree certificates to prove academic qualifications, wage slips to prove earnings and recognised certificates to prove English language ability. Hon. Members may want to see the list in detail. I am happy to be able to tell them that they can find that in appendix 4 to the immigration rules. We are reviewing the effectiveness of the changes to the highly skilled migrants scheme, and as a result of that review the evidence that we require under tier 1 may differ in some respects. However, the highly skilled migrant rules will give the Committee an idea of our thinking.

In respect of students, again the exact requirements have not been finalised, but will not be onerous. Students will need to provide a certificate of sponsorship from their university or college. They are also likely to need evidence, such as bank statements or evidence of sponsorship, to show that they can pay their course fees and maintain themselves within the UK.