Boasting a history of over 200 years, the British Home Office has stood in the way of illegal activities with a great deal of success. The Office is in charge with ensuring security and maintaining order by combating crime, terrorist activities, and keeping a close eye on alcohol and drug abuse. To put it in simple terms, the police and the MI5 Security Service, are under its jurisdiction. Do not confuse the latter with the MI6, which is the secret service.
Another important attribution the Home Office has is to control the immigration laws, and prevent people from abusing them. It does so through the UK Border Agency. The agency also deals with whatever issues may arise when passports are involved. In other words, this is the place where you must turn to if you want to enter or leave the United Kingdom. Applications for issuing a passport are processed by the Office, as well as any visa requests.
Over the past several years, the Office started a reorganisation process, which continues to this day. The applications for visas and passports are steadily being moved from their current location, to the Home Office official website. To accustom people to this change, both locations are currently valid, but, eventually, only the Office’s site will be valid. The same happens when it come to the documentation needed for British citizens to travel overseas.
While the latter aspect poses no particular difficulty in solving, when it comes to issues concerning immigrants, things become more complicated.
In order for immigrants to become citizens of the United Kingdom, a point based system was put into practice in 2008, replacing all the other systems previously employed. According to this system, people who want to become UK citizens need to accumulate points in certain domains, such as voluntary work or having useful skills.
This new system is comprised of 5 tiers, the first targeting the most specialized and trained workers, while the 5th tier addressing young people who temporarily work in the UK in non-economic areas. The 4th tier covers students how are attending a university in the Isles. The Home Office is keeping a close eye on students, because there have been many cases in which they “forgot” to return home. But that should not be interpreted as the Office discouraging students from entering the UK.
The office also managed to successfully solve a very recent and serious issue, namely a number of false universities bringing immigrants into the country. Legal actions were taken to tighten the conditions needed for universities to accept international students, thus leading to some 11,000 students each year not being granted the right to enter the UK.
Another positive aspect of strict surveillance is that the number of those seeking immigration though false claims of being refugees has lowered considerably. The same is true in the case of political asylum requests. Thus, only those with a true need will receive UK citizenship.
The Home Office efforts are further aided by the 10,000 pounds fine that businesses which accept illegal immigrants are charged with. Overall, the situation of people who enter the UK without a passport or with false documentation, or who overstay their visas, is brighter when compared to other countries. Still, it is estimated that nearly half a million illegal immigrants are on British soil.
Problems regarding this aspect tend to be quite sensible. The tabloid press is often vastly exaggerating any issue concerning immigrants, but it is true they are a problem. But the Home Office has adequate means of dealing with them and is performing that job admirably.