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Cameron’s speech: what’s next?


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The full text of the speech (yet to be delivered at the time of writing, which seems rather odd) is available on The Guardian website and elsewhere.

I want to concentrate on what future changes are being signalled in the speech. Before getting started, though, I count six uses of ‘bogus’ and note that Cameron puts the blame for immigration firmly on the immigrants:

For years, people have been playing the system, exploiting the easiest routes of entry to the UK.

Alternatively,  they have been making legitimate applications under rules put in place by the government, rules which those in question satisfied. This kind of talk is hardly constructive, intelligent or helpful, creating a false and unfair impression of abuse and dishonesty by immigrants.

Reducing permanent settlement

The Government is clearly looking at making work permits genuinely temporary:

Last year, 84,000 people who initially came on a work visa got the right to settle here. I want Britain to continue to attract the best workers. But it cannot be right that people coming to fill short-term skills gaps can stay long-term.

As the Cross-Party Balanced Migration Group has argued, it is essential we break that link between temporary visas and permanent settlement.

They are right – that’s what this Government is determined to do … and we will consult on how best to proceed on this in the coming months.

At the moment work visas lead to settlement after five years, presumably on the policy grounds that an employer will not want to sack valued, trained, experienced workers after five years and that it is unreasonable to expect a person to come and go from the UK purely on the basis of the UK’s perceived economic interests. If the right to settle after five years is removed, this will certainly discourage employers from recruiting foreign workers in the first place and it will probably make any foreign worker think at least twice about whether to leave their existing work in their home country. It would basically make it unviable to recruit skilled foreign workers from abroad, which is something employers are very keen on.

If the Government wants to reduce the numbers settling in the UK it would be surprising if the 10 and 14 year long residence routes were not also under review, although I suspect the numbers gaining settlement by this means must be very small.


The changes to the student visas have already been announced. The Government hopes this will reduce numbers by 80,000 per year. The rules on who can sponsor students are being tightened up further, with private colleges being basically eliminated, students will no longer be able to bring dependents, closing off the post study work visa.


In a classic example of setting up a straw man, Cameron says of forced marriages that he has ‘no time for those who say this is a culturally relative issue’. He implies that those who oppose the increase in the spouse visa age believe forced marriages are acceptable.

There is nothing in the speech to really suggest what might be next on family immigration, only that existing restrictive measures will be defended, including the spouse visa age and the English language requirement.

Rather ominously, though, Damien Green said this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government were turning their attention next to the family route having now dealt with students. Further measures might therefore be expected. The idea of lengthening the probationary period to four years has been floated elsewhere, I think, so that may well be on the cards now. Switching from other visas could potentially be even further restricted, but this seems unlikely to have any real effect.


We’ll just have to wait and see – expect further consultation papers in the near future, it is at least clear the Government has not finished with introducing changes to the immigration system.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


15 Responses

  1. It will only hurt those who seek to come to the UK through legal means. A reduction in legal entry will see an increase in illegal entry.
    It’s a completely academic arguement as UKBA is cutting 8,000 posts, so there aren’t the staff there to stop the illegal entry anyway.
    You may as well come into the UK illegally and keep your head down for ten years waiting for the next amnesty

    1. I’m inclined to agree.

      The problem is that even if every single overstayer turned up at UKBA tomorrow and said “Send me home”, the government doesn’t have the resources to do it.

      Yet most of the recent “initiatives” will only serve to create more overstayers: English tests, application fees, appeal fees, restrictions on working, and there’s vengeance still to be wreaked for the loss of the COA.

      Few individuals might even bother to take their case as far as the courts, instead hoping to lay low and wait for the running on fumes 10-14 year long residence concession.

      The elephant in the room is that populist views on immigration tend to be linked directly to race, skin colour and ethnicity. Any success in reducing non-EU immigration would be unlikely in the long run to satisfy the average xenophobic voter. There’s the rub.

  2. What is the legal/moral position on 10 and 14 year long residence routes?? I mean can govt. really abolish these routes?? What happens to legal/moral framework of the common law?? what about fairness principle?? what about people’s human right, who have lived here for 10/14 years??

  3. Interesting approach.

    I’ve never understood why Labour encouraged overseas workers with a 5 year route to ILR except that of extra tax takes with “no recourse” visa clauses to prevent them claiming benefits, to fund the excessive Gov’t spending. By comparison, DLR takes 6 six years for ILR, and Labour came up with all sorts of nonsense (COA [bye-bye], English Tests, Visa age increases) to reduce numbers using the marriage route.

    The Conservative’s initial indications on Family routes will no doubt hit S.55, ECHR and Zambrano ECJ case law conflicts which could make the planned reduction unachievable.

    Given the recent 2 hikes in visa fees (Nov’10 & Apr’11) and the possibility of four years probation, the S.Singh EC38 route is becoming financially ever-more viable an alternative.

    FM – were there any new points that came to light at the Zambrano course a fortnight ago?

  4. As alluded to above, any changes to family rules (and some existing rules on those categories) may be overurned by courts applying Zambrano, there is also ZH (Tanzania) for those with British children, and indeed ECJ Singh may be used more often. Pending court cases will be will be all the more interesting and important for those with UK family members if the family rules are tightened further.

  5. What’s wrong with that quote FM?

    People should NOT be using the easiest route of entry to the UK- they should be using the most appropriate. If they are genuinely coming to study they should study (not work full time in a chicken takeaway or their local Sainsburys). Nor should they be spending hours on end trying to find a British citizen to marry as so many Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi young men do- and yes I do know this for a fact because I am originally from south Asia myself and work closely with the asian community!

    In addition, and for a more objective assessment, check out asian newspapers and websites (google it)- they are littered with marriage related products which are often used by foreign students. It has got to the stage where British Indian, Pakistani and Bengali women looking for a partner START profiles with the sentence ‘no non-Brits or little red book seekers please!’

    1. Why not use the easiest route, as long as it is lawful? Your approach is nonsensical. Should I pay more tax than I need to? Pay parking fines I haven’t incurred? Drive at 30mph on a motorway? Pop by a police station to talk through my activities for the last week and make sure I haven’t committed any crimes? I’m struggling to think of analogies to such a daft proposition, whereby someone should voluntarily do more than the law requires.

      If the law is badly written, it is certainly NOT the fault of an individual who complies with it. It is the fault of the idiot that introduced it.

      Your points (again) about foreigners ‘often’ looking to enter sham marriages are plain racist in my view. You seem to think we are living in some sort of zombie movie where there are hordes of The Illegals crowding our shores looking for fresh meat. Only a modern-day Thin Red Line of UKBA staff can keep them out…

      I’m sorry, I know you are trying to be reasonable and have a debate, I just don’t think you realise what you are saying. Your own origins are irrelevant.

    2. Strictly speaking I’m not sure it is lawful; I can’t recall the exact wording of rule 57 but there was a requirement that the intention for coming over be to study. If a ‘student’ then comes to the UK and works in KFC/ Sainsburys full time it can hardly be said that their true intention is to study.

      Also, just because it’s lawful does not make it right. FM are you suggesting squatting is OK? We all know squatting is not illegal but equally 99% of people would agree it is wrong- surely you too? I think the analogies you make are slightly disingenuous.

      I did semi expect someone (though I have to say not yourself) to suggest I was racist. Particularly surprised you said it as I think you know who I am and therefore know I’m asian. Happy to prove to you that I work (voluntarily) to support asians who have come over to the UK to settle- hardly an indicator that I’m racist.

      Rather than me being racist I would suggest that many simply do not want to accept the reality of the situation- especially with regards to the asian sub continent. There the belief remains that the UK is incredibly easy to get into. If you don’t believe me ask the asian community in the UK. Those who do not believe me, I am not asking you to believe me- I am asking you to believe 99% of the asian community in the UK! I challenge you FM to go to east London, Hounslow, Wembley or any other asian dominated area and find just ONE (amongst the tens of thousands) asian Brit who does not agree with my sentiments above.

      FM I feel you don’t realise what you are saying. Whilst I agree that my origins aren’t really relevant I think it does give me the benefit of being able to see some stark realities which you/ lawyers/ Judges and even politicians cannot see.

    3. Having sponsored an applicant via the correct route, as you suggest above, I was quite surprised at appeal to hear the HOPO argue that we should have done the Visitors visa route and an in country application (cheaper at that time too!).
      It seems the UKBA are/were encouraging the opposite of what you suggest, there-by undermining genuine applicants doing the “right” thing.

      “just because it’s lawful does not make it right” – I agree. Welcome to the UK’s legal system and its politics, ‘cos the legal situation of an immigration decision is mainly what a judge will look at.

    4. Mr T

      I don’t think one PO saying what s/he apparently said is reflective of the entire organisation that is UKBA. Equally, we all know some pretty poor judgments are made by certain judges- but we don’t then go on to say that each and every judge has no idea when it comes to making decisions.

      Don’t tar all POs with the same brush.

    5. First, I’m sure that sham marriages make a tiny percentage of immigration cases to the UK. Second, the concept of a sham marriage is a cultural one. In many societies of the world, marriages are decided on far more pragmatic concerns than love, and therefore the idea of basing a marriage on securing immigration status might not seem anywhere out of the ordinary for many people. However, I agree that what is legal is not necessarily right (although I personally have few qualms about squatters).

      The speech as a whole was a sham, and deligitimised thousands of immigrants who enter the UK both according to the law and the spirit of those laws, instead writing them off as opportunistic scavengers who refuse to learn a language and instead drain resources from the UK. The speech was popularist and aimed at an audience who had no idea of the realities of immigration, nor of the challenges facing immigrants, many of whom try and struggle to learn English, to integrate and to make a positive impact on their community.

      And I’m sure any changes to immigration law will be rushed, poorly thought out and even more poorly implemented, leading to unintended consequences to the detriment to both immigrants and to the UK.

  6. TOT, but I read that Appeal judgement on the Nigerian boy. So what happened to him? That was in 2009, is he still stuck in the system?