Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Home Secretary delivering on promises to tackle immigration [May 2024]

The press release issued by the Home Office on 7 May 2024.

Progress on immigration as numbers on key visa routes fall 24%, detentions start after passing of Rwanda law, and a major crackdown begins on illegal working.

The Home Secretary’s strong action to tackle both legal and illegal migration is working and delivering progress, as data reveals a dramatic drop in visa numbers, whilst the first flights to Rwanda draw closer as the first cohort of illegal migrants to be removed are detained.

New monthly visa statistics revealed that the Home Secretary’s comprehensive reforms to address unsustainable levels of legal migration are already starting to have a decisive impact. Visa applications across key routes affected by the changes fell by 24% in the first 3 months of 2024, compared with the same period last year.

This comes as the government has moved quickly to operationalise its landmark policy to stop the boats and deter migrants making perilous and illegal journeys across the channel. The first group of migrants set for removal to Rwanda are being detained following a series of Immigration Enforcement operations across the country, whilst the first migrant to arrive in Rwanda through the voluntary scheme was successfully relocated.

Meanwhile, leading food delivery companies have agreed to introduce enhanced security checks on their apps to prevent the market being abused by illegal workers, following a series of discussions with ministers and officials across government.

Home Secretary, James Cleverly, said:

Across the board our plan is working – we are delivering a fairer and stronger immigration system.

Legal migration reached grossly unsustainable levels, but we worked quickly to implement the changes I brought forward last year. The early signs show strong progress, and numbers will continue to fall.

And our partnership with Rwanda is moving forward at great speed. We must deter those risking their lives in the channel, and this week we have shown that we mean it when we say you will be detained and removed if you come here illegally.

Migration is a global issue, but the UK stands at the forefront of the response and we’re tackling it head on. With robust, innovative, and unrelenting action, we are delivering as promised.

New monthly visa statistics show falling numbers across Skilled Worker, Health and Care, and Study visa routes. This includes, in the first 3 months of the year, the number of student dependants fell by almost 80% compared to the same period last year, after a restriction was placed on most postgraduate students bringing family with them from January.

Later this month, the Migration Advisory Committee will complete their rapid review of the Graduate Route as part of the government’s plan to protect the integrity and quality of UK higher education and ensure it works in the best interests of the UK. The committee’s findings will be considered closely and the government will act if change is necessary.

The government’s full plan to cut legal migration would mean 300,000 who arrived last year would be unable to do so under the new rules and new monthly statistics will allow the public to see the impact of the full set of measures.

Following the passage into law of the Safety of Rwanda Act and the ratification of the Treaty with Rwanda, the Home Office has moved quickly to arrest and detain the initial cohort of migrants to be removed. Preparations are now being made to safely remove them to Rwanda where they can start rebuilding their lives, with a flight set to take off within 9 to 11 weeks.

Under the Migration and Economic Development Partnership the government is now also able to send those with no right to remain in the UK to Rwanda under the voluntary removals route, the first individual has been successfully relocated and is being fully supported.

As part of the government’s wider efforts to tackle and deter illegal migration, including cracking down on incentives to cross the channel, Minister Michael Tomlinson, the Minister for Countering Illegal Migration, and Minister Kevin Hollinrake, the Minister for Business and Trade, met with representatives from Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. All 3 companies agreed to enhanced security checks on their apps to prevent account sharing by those looking for work who have no right to be in the UK.

They will now change their processes to ensure substitute riders are working in the UK legally and that right to work checks will be carried out, helping to protect the economy and legitimate workers.

Progress demonstrated comes as the government’s wider plan to tackle illegal migration continues to deliver. In 2023, small boat crossing fell by a third on the previous year whilst enforcement visits rose by 49% and arrests more than doubled. Returns of those with no right to be in the UK increased by two-thirds.