Enfield North Labour candidate says legitimate Ankara Agreement migrants must be told if their visa conditions are still in force
Ankara Agreement migrants need urgent clarification from the Home Office after a court ruling suggested they might not be entitled to full UK settlement rights, a Labour politician has said.
Joan Ryan, who was the Labour MP for Enfield North in last parliament, said many Turkish-speaking people came to Britain on the “distinct impression” that they could eventually expect to settle in the UK if they ran a legitimate business.
The Ankara Agreement is a business visa available only to Turkish citizens and migrants have long been able to apply for full British worker rights and UK citizenship after five years.
But a judicial review published last month suggested this should not be an automatic right and the Home Office has since told several people that their applications for full settlement will be delayed.
“People came here legitimately but under a certain set of conditions and they need to know whether those conditions are still in force – and if not, why not?” said Ms Ryan, who is running for re-election in Enfield North.
She said: “The Home Office should give urgent clarification on this because it is a matter of great concern to people who have come here under the distinct impression that the Ankara Agreement means they have to have equal treatment to all other [visa applicants].”
“It would appear that this judgement says not, so I think we need urgent clarification and if that means testing it again in the courts then that needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly.”
Thousands of Turkish people have applied for permanent settlement – also known as indefinite leave to remain – and have subsequently become British citizens after running Ankara Agreement businesses in the UK.
But a ruling published last month by the Upper Tribunal – one of the highest courts in Britain –appeared to suggest this route should now be closed.
If the ruling is fully implemented, it would mean Ankara Agreement workers would be able to retain their businesses but never gain the right to settle or apply for UK citizenship.
The Home Office told Haber last week that the general election campaign meant it had not yet decided how to respond, but confirmed Ankara Agreement applicants seeking indefinite leave to remain had been told their paperwork would be delayed.