(2) whether (a) the Church of England, (b) its dioceses and (c) its individual parishes will be entitled to obtain licences to sponsor immigrants;
(3) whether (a) the Roman Catholic Church, (b) its dioceses and (c) its individual parishes will be entitled to obtain licences to sponsor immigrants.
The Border and Immigration Agency is discussing with the Church of England our proposals for the points based system of migration.
Religious organisations, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, will be entitled to apply to the Border and Immigration Agency for a licence to sponsor migrants. They will be free to decide at what level they seek registration.
(2) what the current average time for processing applications is for (a) indefinite leave to remain in the UK and (b) a travel document at the Border and Immigration Agency.
Information on the total number of indefinite leave to remain applications awaiting decision is not held centrally and would require extensive examination of cases held in the regions and other areas of BIA attracting a disproportionate cost.
There are 972 applications awaiting a decision within the travel document section of BIA.
Statistical information on time taken to process applications is not collated.
Service standards are published annually on the BIA website in the form of general caseworking service standards reports. These cover both charged (those with an associated fee) and non-charged applications. While such reports can provide overall performance against targets, they do not differentiate between different streams of casework, such as indefinite leave to remain or those applying for travel documents.
The current published standards for processing charged applications are 70 per cent. of postal applications to be decided within 20 working days, with 90 per cent. of postal applications decided within 70 working days. For charged applications made in person at the Public Enquiry Office we aim to complete 98 per cent. of applications in 24 hours.
For non-charged postal applications we will decide 25 per cent. within 20 working days and 30 per cent. within 70 working days. For non-charged applications made in person at the Public Enquiry Office we aim to complete 98 per cent. of applications in 24 hours.
(2) how many applications for (a) indefinite leave to remain in the UK and (b) a travel document at the Border and Immigration Agency have been expedited or treated as a priority following representations by hon. Members in each of the last five years.
Although the making of representations from hon. Members is recorded on a correspondence tracking system (CTS), the purpose of this system is to monitor the timeliness of replies. The information recorded is limited and does not include the subject matter of the letter or the outcome of the case.
As there is no link between CTS and the system on which casework decisions and the issue of travel documents are recorded (the case working information database—CID), it is not possible to link decisions made to representations lodged by hon. Members. Similarly, it is not possible to arrive at an assessment of any priority accorded. Priority may be accorded for a number of reasons, such as the serious illness of a close family member. In these circumstances, the information requested could be obtained only by the detailed examination of individual case records, at disproportionate cost.
I can, however, assure the hon. Member that all representations received are taken into account before decisions are made and that careful consideration is given to any exceptional facts and circumstances which might warrant urgent consideration.