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12 June 2023

Government changes to the Nationality and Borders Act

3 mins

After much scrutiny of the bill, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (NABA), came into force on 28 June 2022, making provisions to differentiate between asylum seekers who arrived legally, and those who arrived without permission granted by the Home Office.

Shanaz Ali, trainee solicitor in our Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality team, comments on government changes to the policy below.

Since 28 June 2022, asylum seekers have been considered in two groups: Group 1 and Group 2.

This policy was introduced as the government believed it would act as a deterrent to asylum seekers, stopping them from travelling into the UK ‘illegally’. The government has now very quietly made the decision to ‘pause’ the differentiation policy as of July 2023. The reason for doing so, is the government’s hope that the Illegal Migration Bill will soon be effected, which would effectively prevent those entering the UK illegally from claiming asylum, and therefore there would be no need for Group 2 refugees, as their claims would not even be considered. The suspension is introduced now to try to deal with the significant backlog and delays in the processing of asylum claims caused by the government’s own policy.

A statement released on 8 June 2023 by Robert Jenrick, the Minister of State for Immigration provides that ‘The Illegal Migration Bill goes further than ever before in seeking to deter illegal entry to the UK, so that the only humanitarian route into the UK is through a safe and legal one.’ However, the government has yet to provide any safe and legal routes. We have seen this most recently with the breakout of conflict in Sudan which has had little mention from the UK government and there has certainly been no announcement of a safe route to the UK.

This government’s focus on illegal entry misses the mark. The incredibly difficult choice to make the journey via a small boat is not one that asylum seekers take lightly. Individuals and families are risking their lives to reach safety and very often have no choice but to take this route. While the suspension of the differentiation arrangements is a welcome reprieve for those currently subject to that system it is not a long-term solution with the Illegal Migration Bill in sight. Rather than focussing on illegal entry and punitive provisions, it may be more beneficial for the UK government to devise and open routes for individuals and families who are being persecuted to travel in a safe manner.families who are being persecuted to travel in a safe manner.

We are yet to see any meaningful government policy on opening new safe routes and in the absence of such policies, this government’s rhetoric that the bill provides the answer, rings hollow indeed.

For more information about our Immigration, Asylum and Nationality team and the services we provide, visit our web page here.

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