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Immigration Control

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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The Government are firmly committed to maintaining effective immigration controls while at the same time ensuring that genuine passengers are able to pass through our ports with the least possible inconvenience.The number of Algerian nationals arriving at UK airports who are found to be inadmissible is unacceptably high. Although Algerian nationals must obtain a visa to enter the UK they may, in common with other nationalities, transit this country for up to 24 hours without a visa. However, this is a concession open to abuse by those who are intent on circumventing our immigration controls. A significant number of Algerian nationals who do not qualify for leave to enter or remain in the UK go on to make unfounded asylum claims, some 1,060 in 2002. Therefore from 00.01 hours on Friday 2 May all Algerian nationals wishing to transit the UK will require a direct airside transit visa to do so.To avoid undue hardship for those who had already made their travel plans, we have agreed to operate a grace period. Until 23.59 hours on 6 May any transit passenger who brought their ticket on or before 1 May will not be refused transit solely on the basis of not holding a valid transit visa. Also, any person on the return leg of a journey they commenced before 1 May and who passed through the UK on the outward leg of their journey will be allowed to transit the UK without a visa.