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Immigration: Identity Fraud

House of Lords written question – answered on 10th September 2003.

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Photo of Lord Orme Lord Orme Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to introduce any measures to prevent identity or document fraud in the immigration field.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The Government are committed to maintaining effective immigration control while at the same time ensuring that genuine passengers are able to pass through our ports with the least possible inconvenience.

An essential part of our effort to maintain effective immigration control is to prevent passengers entering or remaining in the United Kingdom using forged documents. We have therefore been working with our EU colleagues on a new secure vignette to be used when people are granted permission to remain in this country. The new vignette, which will be placed in the holder's passport, follows a common EU-wide format allowing easy identification across the whole EU. This does not alter the conditions on which a person may enter the UK, or allow those people granted permission to remain in other EU countries to come to the UK. The vignette is solely a uniform and secure way of granting people permission to remain within each member state of the EU.

The new common format permit will be introduced in the UK from mid-September 2003.

In parallel with this initiative we are introducing changes to the Immigration Rules which will require non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK for more than six months to obtain an entry clearance before travelling here. The entry clearance will be obtained from a British diplomatic mission overseas. This change reflects the need to manage the flow of passengers through UK ports effectively and at the same time to provide a first class service to travellers. By introducing this change we intend to streamline the service provided to people who are coming to the UK. For people who are coming to this country for more than six months we do not believe that applying for entry clearance in advance of travel will prove an unreasonable burden. This approach will provide the best service to passengers and allows for the most efficient use of our resources.

It is our intention that the new entry clearance arrangements will be introduced in stages over a two-year period. The first stage will involve introducing this requirement for nationals of 10 countries and will come into force from 13 November 2003. We will be publicising this change in advance but recognise that there may be some passengers who are not aware of this change. There will therefore be transition arrangements to ensure that genuine passengers are not unduly inconvenienced. A "grace period" will operate until 23.59 p.m. on 13 January 2004, during which any passenger who arrives at a UK port, and would qualify for entry except for the absence of the necessary entry clearance, will be admitted.

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