Immigration in Europe

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e countries acceded to the EU in 2007. Instead, restrictions were put in place to limit migration to students, the self-employed, highly skilled migrants and food and agricultural workers. Statistics released by the Home Office indicate that in the first three months of Romania and Bulgarias EU membership, 7,120 people (including family members) from the two countries successfully registered on the various schemes. Between April and June 2007, a further 9,335 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals had their applications granted. This includes those registering as self-employed and self-sufficient. An additional 3,980 were issued cards for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS).


Managed migration

"Managed migration" is the term used for all legal work permits and visas and this accounts for a substantial percentage of overall immigration figures for the UK. Many of the immigrants who arrive under these schemes bring skills which are in short supply in the UK. This area of immigration is managed by Work Permits (UK), a department within the Home Office. Applications are made at UK Embassies or Consulates or directly to Work Permits (UK), depending upon the type of visa or permit required.

Employer Sponsored Work Permits allow employers to sponsor an employees entrance into the UK by demonstrating that they possess skills that cannot be found elsewhere. Immigrants who have education or experience in occupations which are listed on the Skills Shortage List may apply for a work permit. This includes engineers, doctors, nurses, actuaries and teachers. Employers can also obtain work permits for occupations not on the Skills Shortage List by advertising the position and demonstrating that no suitable UK resident or EU worker can be found. Approvals for a work permit are usually based upon the suitability of the applicant to the role, by education and/or experience.

In addition there is a points-based system called the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP) which allows a highly skilled migrant to enter the UK with the right to work without first having to find an offer of employment and without an employer needing to sponsor the visa. Points are awarded for education, work experience, past earnings, achievements in the field and achievements of the applicants partner. There are also points for being aged under 28 and for doctors currently working in the UK.

Some people work in the UK under a Working holiday visa which allows 12 months of work within a 24 month period for those aged 17 to 30. UK Ancestry Entry Clearance allows a person to work in the UK for five years if they have a grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man at any time; or a grandparent born in what is now the Republic of Ireland on or before March 31, 1922. After that they may apply for Indefinite leave to remain.

In April 2006 changes to the current Managed Migration system were proposed that would primarily create one Points Based Migration system for the UK. The suggested replacement for HSMP (Tier 1 in the new system) gives points for age and none for work experience. This points based system is yet to be finalized and it is thought likely that the new system will be introduced no earlier than mid-2007.


Refugees and asylum seekers

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees the intake of refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law are obliged not to return (or refoule) refugees to the place where they would face persecution.

Nonetheless the issue of immigration has been a controversial political issue since the late 1990s. Both the ruling Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives have suggested policies perceived as being "tough on asylum" (although the Conservatives have dropped a previous pledge to limit the number of people who could claim asylum in the UK, which would likely have breached the UN Refugee Convention) and the tabloid media frequently print headlines about an "immigration crisis".

This is denounced by those seeking to ensure that the UK upholds it international obligations as disproportionate. Critics suggest that much of the opposition to high levels of immigration by refugees is based on racism. Concern is also raised about the treatment of those held in detention and the practice of dawn raiding families, and holding young children in immigration detention centers for long periods of time.

However, critics of the UKs asylum policy often point out the "safe third country rule" - the international agreement that asylum seekers must apply in the first free nation they reach, not go "asylum shopping" for the nation they prefer. EU courts have upheld this policy. Since the UK is geographically much further removed from any third world nation than most other European countries, many assume that asylum seekers in the UK choose it out of preference rather than absolute necessity.

In February 2003, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised on television to reduce the number of asylum seekers by half within 7 months, apparently catching unawares the members of his own government with responsibility for immigration policy. David Blunkett, the then Home Secretary, called the promise an objective rather than a target. It was met according to official figures, despite increase world instability caused by the Iraq War. There is also a Public Performance Target to remove more asylum seekers who have been judged not to be refugees under the international definition than new anticipated unfounded applications. This target was met early in 2006.

Official figures for numbers of people claiming asylum in the UK were at a 13 year low by March 2006. Opponents of the governments policies on asylum seekers and refugees, such as Migration Watch UK and some newspapers are critical of the way official figures are calculated.

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have argued that the governments new policies, particularly those concerning detention centers, have detrimental effects on asylum applicants and those facilities have seen a number of hunger strikes and suicides. Others have argued that recent government policies aimed at reducing bogus asylum claims have had detrimental impacts on those genuinely in need of protection.


Illegal immigration

Illegal (sometimes termed irregular) immigrants in the UK include those who have:

  • entered the UK without authority
  • entered with false documents
  • overstayed their visas

Although it is difficult to know how many people reside in the UK illegally, a Home Office study released in March 2005 estimated a population of between 310,000 and 570,000. Migration Watch UK has criticised the Home Office figures for not including the UK-born dependent children of unauthorised migrants. They suggest the Home Office has underestimated the numbers of unauthorised migrants by between 15,000 and 85,000. In the past the UK government has stated that the figures Migration Watch produces should be treated with considerable caution.

A recent study into irregular immigration states that "most irregular migrants have committed administrative offences rather than a serious crime".

Jack Dromey, Deputy General of the Transport and General Workers Union and Labour Party treasurer, suggested in May 2006 that there could be around 500,000 illegal workers. He called for a public debate on whether an amnesty should be considered. David Blunkett has suggested that this might be done once the identity card scheme is rolled out. London Citizens, a coalition of community organisations, is running a regularisation campaign called Strangers into Citizens, backed by figures including the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, the Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OConnor.


Legal advice

Although the guidance notes and numerous online resources are available to help out people applying for immigration to United Kingdom, one can also seek legal advice for this matter. The guidelines to the immigration programs states that immigration advisers should fulfill the requirements of good practice. An independent public body set up under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 named The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) maintains and publishes the register of advisers. Legal advisers for these applications are required to provide their full details along with the OISC number with each application. A complete list of OISC immigration advisers can be found on their website.


2.5. Greece


Greece is largely an ethnically homogeneous state, and throughout the early period of its modern history it experienced emigration far more than immigration, particularly throughout the mid 20th century owing to the Greek Civil War and The Second World War (around 12% of the Greek population emigrated from 1881-1951). The only previous (prior to 1990) examples of large scale immigration throughout Modern Greek History were the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. Though the 1970s experienced the arrival of a small number of Polish, African, Egyptian and South Asian migrants (around 50,000 in total).

Throughout the 1990s, however, there has been a rise in large scale immigration, a large portion of it illegal, from neighboring Balkan countries, particularly Albania into Greece. This has become a major political issue in Greece and all major parties have addressed policies aiming to deal with it. However, in recent years statistics show that the relat