Immigrants' family appeals costing taxpayers 1million a week
Family members of immigrants in Britain who are refused visas to visit their relatives are costing taxpayers 1 million a week by launching legal battles against the Home Office, according to new figures.
By Richard Edwards
Published: 8:01AM GMT 02 Jan 2010
The number of appeals made by visitors refused entry to the UK on a family visa has increased eight-fold since 2002.
Pressure group Migrationwatch disclosed that part of the reason for the rise is that the definition of a family visitor is so wide that it can include as many as 120 relatives of an average middle-aged immigrant in Britain including first cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces.
There are also fears that the system is poorly regulated and therefore the visitors can stay on illegally without being removed.
A report by the think tank found that last year three countries – India, Pakistan and Nigeria – produced nearly 200,000 applications between them.
Unlike ordinary visitors, “family visitors” have a right of appeal if they are refused entry and the total number of appeals is now running at more than 1,000 a week.
In 2002, the Government abolished charging fees to individuals who fought their visa refusal, therefore the burden falls on the taxpayer.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: The Government has ducked the issue of family visitors for years.
Obviously, family members should be able to visit relatives in Britain but such visits need to be properly regulated. There is a clear risk that, once here, some of these visitors will stay on illegally knowing that the chance of being removed is remote.
Furthermore, in current financial circumstances, it is no longer acceptable that taxpayers should pay the appeal costs for foreign nationals wishing to visit Britain.
The definition of a family visitor is so wide that it could include as many as 120 relatives of a middle aged person in Britain.
It should be narrowed and charges which the government abolished in 2002 should be re-introduced.
More than one in 10 people living in Britain were born abroad, and the proportion of the population that is foreign-born has almost doubled in the past two decades to 11 per cent, or 6.7 million people.
According to the study by Jil Matheson, the national statistician, Britain's population is on course to pass 70 million in about 20 years. She said projections based on past demographic trends suggest a 17 per cent increase in population over the next 25 years, to hit 71.6 million by 2033.
It currently stands at 61.4 million and ministers have insisted that the landmark 70 million total will not be reached. The study is further evidence of the way in which Labour's immigration policies have changed the make-up of British society.
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