Preventing illegal immigration in the source country is at the heart of a new international strategy launched today by the government.

The government is committed to putting migration at the heart of international relationships by working closer than ever with foreign governments, sharing data and intelligence with enforcement agencies abroad, and ensuring developing countries have the skills they need to thrive.

The international action plan – a joint strategy by the Home Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office – underlines the need to take the fight against human traffickers, forgers and foreign criminals to the source, with the new UK Border Agency’s work overseas more crucial than ever before.

The UK Border Agency’s successes include:

* 67,000 inadequately documented passengers stopped from boarding planes to the UK in 2008-09;

* suspected fraudulent visa applications referred to police abroad leading to more than 1,280 arrests across the globe as of September 2009;

* a team based at the British Embassy in China working with local authorities to speed up re-documentation – leading to 3,280 Chinese nationals being removed last year; and

* more than 125 drug couriers arrested in Ghana and Jamaica in the past year as part of Operations Airbridge and Westbridge, which see frontline officers working with overseas authorities to stop drug couriers before they reach Britain.

The government recognises that this enforcement work can only take place alongside capacity building in developing countries.

Today, ministers also committed to support circular migration to reduce the impact of skills loss on other countries, ensuring migrants are able to send money back home, and enabling those who need protection to seek refuge as close to home as possible.

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:

“The message today is clear, we want the smugglers, traffickers and forgers out there to know, wherever they are in the world, we are watching them. Paying people traffickers is a rip off.

“Three quarters of the world’s population now need a visa to come to Britain, and UK Border Agency officers are working in 135 different countries to stop organised criminals in their tracks.

“Our enforcement work must go hand in hand with circular migration, and sharing our skills and training with developing nations.”

The action plan – entitled ‘International Challenges, International Solutions: Managing the Movement of People and Goods’ – looks at proposals to allow skilled temporary residents in the UK to ‘pause’ their journey to citizenship so they can return home and contribute their expertise. This would allow developing nations the chance to benefit from these skilled workers without interfering with their path to citizenship in the UK.

Mr Woolas said:

“There is no question that migration has brought benefits to the UK economy. Many of those who come here plug hard-to-fill jobs gaps, playing a key role in running public services especially in health and education.

“But while Britain is benefiting, it is important that we do not deprive other countries of the skilled people they need most. It’s in our long term interest that they have the doctors, nurses and teachers who are so crucial to their development.

“That’s why, particularly in these difficult times, we must ensure those that do come here are given the opportunity to help back home and invest their new found skills.”

Through the Points Based System and advice from the panel of independent economists, the Migration Advisory Committee, the government will continue to ensure Britain only gets the skilled workers it needs, and no more.


Background Facts

1. ‘International Challenges, International Solutions: Managing the Movement of People and Goods’ can be viewed at:

2. Many migrants send money home to their families. The Philippines received $7 billion in global remittance in 2002 alone. This represents almost nine per cent of its gross national product, and the primary source of income for 2.6 million families.

3. The money sent home to Liberia makes up around half its gross national product.

4. Data sharing is already reaping rewards. An individual claiming asylum in the UK as a Somali national was found to have been fingerprinted in the US while travelling on an Australian passport. Australian authorities confirmed that they wanted to question him on suspicion of rape. He was deported and is now serving a jail sentence in Australia.