Rishi Sunak faces renewed pressure on immigration after a new fast-track scheme for 12,000 asylum seekers – including Channel migrants – was dubbed an ‘amnesty in all but name’.
In a bid to begin clearing the massive asylum backlog, the Home Office will launch a streamlined system which will see migrants granted refugee status on the basis of a 10-page questionnaire.
The plan was immediately attacked by critics as the Prime Minister faced demands from his own backbenches to urgently tackle the Channel crisis.
More than 95 per cent of the 12,000 claims are expected to be granted, based on current rates, allowing them to settle permanently in Britain and sponsor relatives to join them here.
Officials said the ‘vast majority’ of cases will go ahead without an asylum interview – a detailed, one-to-one session with a Home Office caseworker which is designed to show up discrepancies in an applicant’s claim.
The new fast-track scheme will be applied to Libyans, Syrians, Afghans, Eritreans and Yemenis who arrived in Britain before June 28 last year, including those who arrived by small boat across the Channel.
Officials were unable to say how many Channel migrants are in the pool.
It is believed to be the first scheme of its kind in the UK, although a similar backlog-clearing exercise designed to fast-track historic asylum cases was set up by the former Labour government in 2006 and ran until 2011.
Applicants will still undergo security and crime checks under the new programme, officials said.
However, there have been a number of cases of asylum seekers from the five countries covered by the scheme who have committed serious crimes in the UK.
They include Afghan asylum seeker Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai, who stabbed aspiring Royal Marine Tom Roberts to death in a row over an e-scooter in Bournemouth last year.
Abdulrahimzai posed as a 14-year-old boy to gain entry into the UK in 2019, but in reality he was a 19-year-old man wanted by Serbian police for gunning down two people with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Last month he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years for Mr Roberts’ murder.