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Asylum Seekers

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 20 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What mechanisms they have put in place to ensure that asylum seekers persuaded to leave the United Kingdom by payments of £3,000 do not subsequently return under other identities to claim a further payment.[HL6396]

In assessing the eligibility of any applicant for the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) all details are checked on Home Office systems and any duplicate claim made is identified and will be refused. To maintain the integrity of the asylum system, any individual who is found not to be in need of international protection and who does not qualify for leave on another basis is required to leave the United Kingdom. If they have been refused assistance under VARRP and subsequently fail to depart voluntarily, they will face enforced removal.

We are developing procedures to deal with those who might be intending to abuse the system by seeking to return to the United Kingdom under a different identity and then trying to claim asylum again and they include the current capture of visa applicants’ fingerprints that covers 11 countries at present.

The results have shown that the capture of biometrics is helping to counter the return of failed asylum seekers to the UK. The Biometrics Programme in UKvisas, set up in 2005, is however extending the capture of biometrics to all remaining visa-issuing posts from late this summer, with completion aimed around the end of 2007.

As part of the initial asylum process, all asylum applicants are fingerprinted with the exception of those under the age of five.

These prints are stored in the Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint Service (IAFS) database. If a failed asylum seeker applies for a new visa, their fingerprints will be taken, (if they are applying in an overseas post where biometrics are currently captured), and checked by the Immigration Fingerprinting Bureau (IFB) against the IAFS database for possible matches in any identity. If an applicant is shown to have previously claimed asylum in a different identity, the two cases are linked on the Home Office system with alias details being listed on both records.

All asylum claims are determined on their individual merits, including any claims made by those who have previously availed themselves of VARRP.