Entry Clearances

Home Department written question – answered on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps his Department has taken to expedite the asylum process for those Iraqi locally employed civilians who are awaiting a decision on an asylum application; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Minister of State (the North West), Home Office, Minister of State (the North West), HM Treasury, Minister of State (the North West), Regional Affairs

Several steps have been taken to streamline the decision making process for former locally engaged staff who are being considered for resettlement to the UK. The UK Border Agency has reduced the timeframe from registration with UNHCR to interview with UK Border Agency staff from four months to less than two months. We have also reduced the timeframe between interview date and the decision being made from three months to one and a half months, where no further investigation is required.

We have also responded positively to requests to undertake additional selection missions by staging three interviewing missions previously unplanned. This has ensured that regular numbers of locally engaged staff have been interviewed every quarter during the year and had their decisions made in a timely fashion.

The UK Border Agency is unable to process an application until former locally engaged civilians are outside of Iraq and have been assessed by the UNHCR. Some have delayed their travel because they wished to complete medical treatment or studies in Iraq which is outside of our control. An application is only activated once UNHCR submits their application to the UK Border Agency.

Time frames for decision making are communicated to locally engaged staff at the time of their interview and at regular intervals through meetings with the LE staff manager based in Amman.

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