Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Annex 26

JOINT ENTRY CLEARANCE UNIT


BACKGROUND

  A joint Home Office/Foreign Office study of entry clearance (chaired by the Cabinet Office) recommended a combined management structure to achieve greater integration between the various elements of immigration control. That recommendation was agreed by Ministers in May 1998 and set out in the Government's White Paper on Immigration and Asylum, with approval given to a working model (based on the recommendations) in October 1998. The initiative reflects the Government's wider commitment to achieve more joined up government, and it will offer a "one stop shop" service to meet Ministerial objectives of a firmer, faster, fairer entry clearance process.

STRUCTURE

  The overall structure will be made up of a Joint Entry Clearance Unit (JECU), staffed by FCO and Home Office personnel, reporting to a Joint Management Board (JMB), chaired alternately by FCO and Home Office officials at Director (Under-Secretary) level and to include a representative of the Cabinet Office. The JMB will report to both the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for the Home Department through a Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) made up of Ministers in the FCO and in the Home Office holding, respectively, the entry clearance and the immigration portfolios, together with the Cabinet Office Minister for the Public Service.

  The new arrangements are due to be in place by 5 June 2000.

JOINT MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE (JMC)

  The Committee will comprise

    —  the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office responsible for entry clearance matters;

    —  the Minister of State at the Home Office responsible for immigration matters;

    —  the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Cabinet Office responsible for the public service.

  Its role will be to develop entry clearance procedures, management and strategy; to oversee the joint purpose, aims and objectives for entry clearance operations overseas; to co-ordinate and discuss issues of relevance to entry clearance operations, including the use of Ministerial discretion; and to contribute to the development of immigration policy. It is also intended that the JMC should review the Joint Entry Clearance Unit's performance against objectives each year.

JOINT MANAGEMENT BOARD (JMB)

  The JMB will comprise two senior officials from the FCO, two senior officials from the Home Office and a Cabinet Office representative. The JMB will be responsible for overseeing and monitoring all matters relating to the management, delivery and performance of the entry clearance operation. The JMB will also be responsible for ensuring that the operation of the entry clearance system reflects Government policy as a whole and is discharged efficiently and effectively, and that operations both overseas and at home are linked in a way which supports this aim.

JOINT ENTRY CLEARANCE UNIT (JECU)

  Its functions will be made up of those of the current Migration and Visa Department and relevant elements of IND. Its personnel will be drawn from the Home Office and FCO in broadly equal proportions, and it will report directly to the JMB.

  The Unit's purpose will be to process entry clearance applications overseas in order to control the entry to the UK of persons who are subject to such a requirement under the Immigration Rules in support of UK Immigration Policy.

  Its aims are:

    —  to use entry clearance to welcome legitimate travel to the UK;

    —  to prevent entry to the UK of those who do not qualify under the Immigration Rules;

    —  to tackle abuse of immigration control and those profiting from abuse;

    —  to offer a service which meets Ministerial objectives of "fast, firm and fair".

    —  to manage the human and financial resources involved in entry clearance in a flexible, efficient and effective manner;

    —  to ensure that the purpose and aims of immigration policy, including entry clearance, take full account of wider national interests including HMG's foreign policy objectives.


 
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