New Clause 46 - Permission to work for people seeking asylum

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 4 November 2021.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 3:30, 4 November 2021

I should start by noting that, as hon. Members know, the Government’s current policy does allow asylum seekers to work in the UK if their claim has been outstanding for 12 months, where the delay was caused through no fault of their own. Those permitted to work are restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list, which is based on expert advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee.

I should like to set out the rationale for that policy position. The policy is designed to protect the resident labour market by prioritising access to employment for British citizens and others who are lawfully resident, including those granted refugee status, who are given full access to the labour market. That is in line with wider changes we have made through the points-based immigration system. We consider it crucial to distinguish between those who need protection and those seeking to come here to work, who can apply for a work visa under the immigration rules. Our wider immigration policy would be undermined if individuals could bypass the work visa rules by lodging unfounded asylum claims in the UK.