In April, the Nationality and Borders Act achieved Royal Assent. This landmark legislation will help to deliver a fair but firm asylum system; deterring illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people-smuggling networks and speeding up the removal of those with no right to be here. In turn, this will free up the asylum system so we can better support those in genuine need of asylum through safe and legal routes.
Today, a new measures from the Act will come into effect. Including:
- Amended criminal offences with increased maximum penalties for those attempting to arrive in the UK illegally - from six months to four years - and maximum life imprisonment for people smugglers, including pilots of small boats in the Channel and others who dangerously smuggle migrants into the UK. In addition, we have increased the maximum penalty for Foreign National Offenders who return to the UK in breach of a deportation order from six months to five years;
- A suite of asylum reforms, with the central principle that those seeking protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. Our reforms also introduce a new differentiated approach, whereby those who did not come to the UK directly, did not claim without delay, or did not show good cause for their illegal entry or presence, may be given lesser entitlements than those who have complied with these requirements, for example refugees who have come to the UK via safe and legal routes. The different entitlements include a shorter grant of permission to stay (a minimum of 30 months instead of 5 years), no automatic right to settlement and access to family reunion only where a refusal would breach our international obligations.
- An ability to impose visa penalties – this means slowing or stopping our services where countries pose a risk to international peace and security and those that refuse to take back their own citizens who have no right to be in the UK.
- Nationality changes, creating fairer access to British nationality.
- Changes to bail and returns, which includes strengthening the Early Removal Scheme for Foreign National Offenders to remove them sooner than was the case previously
These reforms sit alongside other important changes, including a world-leading migration and economic partnership with Rwanda. Further reforms from the Act will be implemented over the coming months and into next year as we seek to build and deliver a fair, but firm asylum and immigration system.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords