Global: Tightening the Borders

The UK is introducing an additional hurdle for visa applicants – the requirement for proof of criminal record checks in other countries the applicant has lived in. But this extra bureaucracy will cause headaches, even for those who have led a blameless life

The UK has seen unprecedented immigration over the last decade, largely due to the EU’s open border policy, which allows citizens of member states to work in any other EU country. Inevitably, a few new arrivals have found themselves on the wrong side of the law – primarily due to traffic offences and other low-level wrongdoing – but a few high-profile crimes have caught the public attention and led the government to try to prevent those with serious criminal records from settling in the country.

Ironically, however, the new visa restrictions will not apply to EU citizens, despite public outcry in the UK when a 14-year-old girl was murdered in 2014 by a Latvian immigrant who had served time in jail in his home country for killing his wife.

James Brokenshire, the immigration minister, says: “Foreign criminals have no place in the United Kingdom and this scheme will help keep them out. Since 2010, checks on foreign nationals going through the UK criminal justice system have increased by more than 1,000 per cent, helping ensure more foreign criminals are taken off our streets and making our communities safer. But we want to go further still by preventing these people getting into the country in the first place. Mandatory police certificates will serve as an additional tool to help us achieve this.”

Jennifer Stevens, Laura Devine Attorneys

Read the full article published in Global - Fourth quarter 2015.