As you may know, In February 2005, a new immigration rule was introduced which allowed people seeking asylum to apply for permission to work in the UK if they had been waiting over 12 months for an initial decision on their asylum claim. In 2010, the right to work after 12 months was extended to those who had made further submissions on their claim. However, the right to work was restricted to jobs on the shortage occupation list, which is restricted to radiographer and classical ballet dancers.

The Home Office’s targets for decisions on asylum cases is six months. In the second quarter of this year, immigration statistics were published and it showed that 48% of main applicants and dependants had been waiting over six months for a decision on their claim, this has increased from previous years.

Being given the opportunity to work can transform the lives of asylum seekers and their situation. It will have a massive impact on their mental health because asylum seekers will be able to integrate better and they will be contributing to our society and economy. In the meantime, while they are waiting lengthy periods of time, after the six months target has passed, asylum seekers can become depressed, isolated, and even have thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

I am pleased to confirm that the Labour Party now fully supports the right of asylum seekers to work and that I and many of my colleagues will continue to push the Government to enact this as soon as possible.

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