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Volume 408: debated on Friday 11 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to introduce online visa applications in countries other than the US. [124614]

Following the success of online visa applications in the United States, UKvisas is currently developing the necessary software and website required to introduce online visa applications in other countries. It is intended that a pilot scheme will begin by early November 2003 in Malaysia and Singapore, followed by Australia, New Zealand and Canada before the end of 2003.It is intended to make online visa applications available in up to 30 countries in 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people were granted visas in (a) 2002 and (b) the first six months of 2003 to enter the UK without restriction on seeking employment. [123774]

All visas issued have some form of restriction attached. Categories of entry clearance of which there are no restrictions on seeking work are:

Those applicants settling with spouses, partners or other dependant close relatives in the UK;
Those applicants joining recognised refugees in the UK for family reunion.
The total number of visas issued to applicants in the above categories and who are therefore free to seek employment in 2002 was 55,297. Entry Clearance statistics are collated annually and figures for the financial year 2002–03 will be available in the Library of the House from the end of August/early September.In addition to the above categories of entry clearance, the following applicants are also entitled to work without restriction on their employment:

Those applicants entering the United Kingdom under UK Ancestry Rules;
Dependants of students coming to the UK for more that 12 months;
Dependants of work permit holders.

While work permit holders, Au Pairs, Agricultural Workers, and domestic workers may work, they are restricted to working for a specific employer and can therefore not "seek" work.