The immigration system we inherited was open to abuse and gave little consideration to whether migrants could support themselves or contribute to the UK when they arrived. This Government has reformed the immigration system by tackling abuse of student visas, cutting access to benefits and closing visa routes for those coming to the UK without a job.
In addition this Government has tightened up access to benefits, clamped down on more than 850 bogus colleges and increased the level of English required to come and stay here. The Immigration Act 2014 is making made it much tougher for illegal immigrants to remain in the UK by restricting their access to work, housing, benefits, healthcare, bank accounts and driving licences.
As a result of these changes, family visas granted are down by a third compared to the year ending September 2010 and student visas granted are down by over a quarter. Since July we have revoked over 5,000 driving licences and removed more than 500 foreign criminals since July 2014 under the new non-suspensive powers. These changes have demonstrated that it is possible to reform and reduce immigration.
Net migration from within the EU has doubled since 2010. That is why, as the Prime Minister has said, we will continue the reforms this Government has introduced to crack down on the abuse of free movement, continue the reforms this Government has introduced on access to benefits, and insist that there are new arrangements in place for future Member States to prevent a repeat of the mass migration that resulted from the previous Government’s failure to impose robust transitional controls in 2004.