§ Lord Carter
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans they have to expand the scope of immigration entry procedures for work permit holders. [HL5098]
§ Baroness Scotland of Asthal
On 17 June we announced the introduction of UK residence permits and in parallel to this the introduction of an entry clearance requirement for all persons who want to stay in the UK for more than six months. The entry clearance requirement is being gradually phased in over a two-year period. The first phase will require nationals of 10 specified countries to obtain entry clearance from 13 November.
We have now decided to expand further the scope of the entry clearance requirement in order to streamline procedures for work permit holders. With effect from 13 November all work permit holders and training and work experience scheme (TWES) permit holders who wish to stay in the UK for more than six months should obtain entry clearance before travelling. This will enable these permit holders to be granted their full period of stay in the UK, as stated on their work permit, before they arrive here, saving them from needing to make a further application for stay shortly after arrival.
There will be a grace period for work permit and TWES permit holders until 23.59 on 13 January 2004 to ensure that those who are not aware of these new arrangements are not unduly inconvenienced on arrival in the UK. During this grace period, if a work permit holder arrives in the UK without entry clearance, and would qualify for entry except for the absence of the necessary entry clearance, they will be admitted for a period of six months. During that time they will be able to apply for an extension of stay for a 12WA period up to the length of their work permit. This application will not require an accompanying second work permit application to be made by the UK employer.