§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the longest and most convenient stated period of time, how many applicants there have been from Poland for entry into the United Kingdom for politial asylum, as refugees, for entry permanently and on a temporary basis; how many have been granted and refused in each category; how long it has taken to reach such decisions; when all outstanding applications are likely to have been processed; and what have been the reasons for the delays to date.
§ Mr. Raison
Since martial law was imposed in Poland 75 applications have been received from Warsaw from Poles wishing to seek asylum in this country. These are under consideration.
The remaining information sought by the hon. Member is not available in the form required. From 1 January to 30 November 1982, 7,780 visas were issued to Poles wishing to visit the United Kingdom. On 30 November nearly 1,400 applications had either still to be referred to the Home Office or were awaiting decision.
It is necessary for us to satisfy ourselves that Poles applying for such visas are genuine visitors who intend to return at the end of the visit as required by the immigration rules, and following the imposition of martial law an interview requirement was introduced which caused delay. However, the waiting period for the issue of visas in Warsaw has now been considerably reduced. Many applicants receive their visas in two or three weeks. Those whom it is still necessary to interview wait for five or six weeks. The situation is improving steadily and the matter is being kept under review.