Asylum Seekers

Treasury written question – answered on 4th February 2004.

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Photo of Peter Lilley Peter Lilley Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what allowance is made in the Government Actuary's projection of future immigration for (a) the number of people whose claims for asylum are rejected who remain in this country, (b) the number of people who overstay their visas and (c) the ending of visa restrictions for inhabitants of new member states of the EU.

Photo of Ruth Kelly Ruth Kelly Financial Secretary, HM Treasury

The latest (2002-based) official population projections for the United Kingdom were published by the Government Actuary's Department in December 2003. The migration assumptions underlying the projections use the internationally agreed definition of a migrant. A migrant is defined as someone who changes his or her country of usual residence for a period of at least a year so that the country of destination becomes the country of usual residence.

For the long-term migration assumptions, an allowance is made for asylum seekers who are granted leave to stay in the UK. It is assumed that asylum seeker applications will be processed within twelve months and no allowance is made for failed asylum seekers who may remain in the UK for longer than 12 months as there is no reliable evidence on which to base such an estimate.

The migration assumptions include an allowance for persons who enter the UK as short-term visitors but are subsequently granted an extension of stay for a year or longer. No allowance is made for those who overstay their visas illegally, again as there is no reliable evidence on which to base such an estimate.

Failed asylum seekers who do not leave the UK and people who overstay visas illegally are part of the illegal population. The size of this group is particularly difficult to estimate because they often do not show up in official records and are motivated to remain hidden. This is also a problem experienced by most other EU countries: in a recent survey only one country out of 15 reported that they made any allowance for illegal migration in their population projections.

No allowance has been made for the possible effects of enlargement of the European Union. At present, the precise impact of this change cannot be predicted, although recent Home Office research has concluded that the effect on the UK is likely to be fairly small.

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