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Section 19 of the United Kingdom Borders Act 2007

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

Section 19 of the UK Borders Act 2007 will come into force on 23 May 2011. Section 19 restricts the evidence an appellant can rely on at such an appeal to that which is submitted to and considered by the UK Border Agency in support of an application.

Reforming the immigration system and reducing the level of immigration to a sustainable number is one of the big tasks of this Government. Our goal is an improved system that commands the confidence of the public and serves our economic interests. We have made it clear that we will take a robust approach, that we will tighten up our system, stop abuse and welcome only the most economically beneficial migrants. This Government have already delivered a new annual limit on non-EU economic migrants and have announced reforms to the student visa system to be implemented over the course of the next year. These measures are aimed at attracting the brightest and the best, while reducing the level of net migration and tackling abuse.

People wishing to remain in the UK under the points-based system are required to submit all relevant evidence in support of their application at the time that application is made. This enables caseworkers to make the right decision in the first instance, often avoiding unnecessary and expensive publicly funded appeals. It also protects the integrity of the immigration system, ensuring all necessary checks can be made and any deception identified.

But this system has been subject to misuse at the expense of the taxpayer. Individuals already in the UK but unsuccessful in their application to extend their time here have been using the appeals system as a free second application process—putting in evidence at the appeals stage which should have formed part of their application. Our management information shows that around two thirds of PBS appeals allowed by the tribunal are due to submission of further evidence at appeal.

It is not right that the taxpayer should foot the administrative and appeals bill where this information should have been put forward as part of the original application or where a second application including all the necessary information, for which we will charge, is the most appropriate route to securing a grant of leave. Section 19 will restrict the type of new evidence that can be taken into account by the tribunal. It will prevent circumvention of checks, helping restore public confidence in our immigration system and contribute to wider improvements to reduce the overall cost of the appeals system.

The commencement order will come into force on 23 May and will apply to all appeals heard for the first time against refusals of applications to remain in the UK under the points-based system, regardless of the date that appeal was lodged. Appeals that have been part or fully heard by the first-tier tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber) by this date will not be affected.