Illegal workers staying in UK

2011-02-16 18:22

London - Hundreds of migrant workers whose jobs have ended and whose visas have expired are being allowed to stay illegally, a critical report by independent inspectors into the UK Border Agency found on Wednesday.

Chief independent inspector of the UKBA John Vine said there were "inconsistent approaches to the decision-making process" from the top down and a lack of systematic spot checks on firms and institutions sponsoring staff.

In a report into "Tier 2" of the points-based system, that allows skilled workers from outside the European Union into Britain to plug gaps in the labour force, he said the agency failed to routinely remove migrants whose visas had run out.

Vine's inspection found 150 cases where migrants had stopped working for their employer that needed to be urgently reviewed, while another 3 000 sponsor notifications were outstanding.

He said "an unquantified proportion" of those required curtailment action on their leave to remain. Vine called on the agency to act promptly to deport those living in the country illegally.

But the home office defended its record of deporting people whose visas had expired and said its new immigration cap would mean tighter restrictions.

Under the new rules, just over 20 000 visas will be issued annually to workers from outside the EU, with priority given to people whose skills are most in need, including scientists.

The government has also recently announced that non-EU workers earning more than £150 000 a year will also be exempt. Immigration Minister Damian Green said changes would be made if the system was found lacking.

"We do regulate sponsors properly, but obviously I'm very interested in what the chief inspector has to say and, if we do need to improve the UKBA systems, we will do so," he told the BBC.

Shadow immigration minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the government was intent on making the situation worse by cutting 5 200 jobs when more resources were needed.

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