Timeline of immigrant processing and visa policy in the United Kingdom

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This page provides a timeline of key events related to immigrant processing and visa policy of the United Kingdom. It focuses on laws, policies, and programs affecting pathways for authorized entry to the United Kingdom and long-term immigrant and non-immigrant statuses. It is complementary to the timeline of immigration enforcement in the United Kingdom.

The timeline is still under construction. We aim for it to have comparable coverage to timeline of immigrant processing and visa policy in the United States. In the meantime, a useful Wikipedia reference article is History of UK immigration control.

Full timeline

Year Month and date (if available) Event type Affected agencies (past, and present equivalents) Details
1351 Legislation De natis ultra mare, also known as the Status of Children Born Abroad Act 1350, dates back to this period. The law regulates the rights of people born overseas, and addresses the issue of inheritance of foreign-born children.
1705 Legislation The Alien Act 1705 is passed, declaring that Scottish nationals would be treated as foreign nationals. This would be superseded by the Act of Union 1707 that would unite the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain.
1708 Legislation The Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act 1708 is passed, allowing for the naturalisation of French Protestants (Huguenots) who had fled to Britain since the Edict of Fontainebleau.
1772 Legislation The British Nationality Act 1772 is passed. The Act makes general provision allowing natural-born allegiance (citizenship) to be assumed if the father alone is British.
1905 August 11 Legislation Executive branch, specifically home ministry The Aliens Act 1905 is the first Act to introduce immigration controls and registration. The Home Secretary is given overall responsibility for immigration and nationality matters. While the Act is ostensibly designed to prevent paupers and criminals from migrating and to deport those who migrated, its unstated motivation seems to be to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.
1914 August 5 Legislation Executive branch, specifically home ministry The Aliens Restriction Act 1914 is passed in a single day on the eve of World War I. The Act requires every person entering the country to produce evidence of identity at the time of entry. The Act effectively supersedes the Aliens Act 1905 due to much more stringent provisions.[1] The power still remains in use.[2][3]
1914 August 7 Legislation Executive branch The British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 is passed. The Act lays out the definition of natural-born British subjects, as well as the naturalisation process for aliens and the ways that people might lose their British citizen status.[4]
1915 April  ? Executive branch, specifically home ministry Only passengers with exit permits are allowed to leave the UK. Officers are tasked with retrieving ration documents from exiting passengers.Template:Fix/category[citation needed]
1916 Executive branch, specifically home ministry A "traffic index" is created from the landing and embarkation cards collected at ports and matched together at the Home Office's Aliens Branch HQ to show whether the person had complied with their conditions for entry.
1919 December 23 Legislation Executive branch, specifically home ministry The Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 is passed. The Act continues and extends the provisions of the Aliens Restriction Act 1914 and the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914.[5] Its provisions would be repealed or superseded by subsequent Acts, most of them in 1970 or 1971.
1925 By this time, an immigration officer is present at Croydon Airport, the UK's main airport (taken from Wikipedia page, no citation present).
1947 Legislation The Polish Resettlment Act 1947 is passed, offering British citizenship to over 200,000 displaced Polish troops on British soil who had fought against Nazi Germany and opposed the Soviet takeover of their homeland.
1948 July 30 Legislation The British Nationality Act 1948 receives royal assent, to be effective starting January 1, 1949. Previously, all members of Commonwealth countries had a Commonwealth citizenship. However, the Canadian Citizenship Act, 1946 created a Canadian citizenship. The British Nationality Act of 1948 says that each Commonwealth country can create its own citizenship, while retaining elements of a common Commonwealth citizenship.
1952 A Common Travel Area is created.
1962 Legislation The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 is passed. Previously, citizens of Commonwealth countries had extensive rights to migrate to the UK. The new Act specified that only those who had a connection to the UK, or their wives or underage children, could move freely to the UK.
1968 Legislation The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 is passed. The Act further restricts the rights of Commonwealth citizens to move to the UK, by restricting the right to people who were either born in the UK or had at least one parent or grandparent born in the UK.
1971 Legislation The Immigration Act 1971 is passed. In the spirit of the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts of 1962 and 1968, the Act introduces the concept of patrial immigrants and attempts to prevent permanent migration of Commonwealth citizens without strong UK ties to the UK. The Act would come into force on January 1, 1973.
1981 Legislation The British Nationality Act 1981 is passed under the Conservative government, tightening citizenship criteria. The Act supersedes the British Nationality Act 1948, and is effective on January 1, 1983.

References

  1. "Aliens Registration Cards". The National Archives. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  2. https://www.gov.uk/register-with-the-police
  3. "Aliens Restriction Act, 1914" (PDF). Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  4. "British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914" (PDF). August 7, 1914. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  5. "An Act to continue and extend the provisions of the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914" (PDF). December 23, 1919. Retrieved November 19, 2017.