The UK Border Agency’s latest focus on making local immigration services more visible and accessible to the communities they serve is highlighted by the new ‘one stop shop’ provision opened in Northern Ireland.
The Belfast-based office will be one of the 70 different immigration teams across the UK which has been established to provide a value-added, locally-focused service. This newly-created office, which opened on 22nd July, will employ around 60 staff under one roof, bringing together a wide range of immigration experience and services to benefit the local community.
The new full service Public Enquiry Office will offer a variety of local immigration services by bringing together representatives from organisations such as the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and maintaining the close relationship between the UK Border Agency and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
The office, located at Drumkeen in the south of the city of Belfast, was officially opened by Paul Goggins MP on Monday 22nd July. It will offer an extensive catalogue of visa and immigration services, including immigration law enforcement, such as tackling illegal working; foreign national enrolment onto the identity card scheme; asylum claim-handling and a provision for sharing intelligence to help tackle illegal activities to the immigration system. Furthermore, as a full service public enquiry office, fiancée and proposed civil partner visa holders can file their FLR (M) applications at this office.
A number of high-profile UK Government representatives commented on how the state of the art complex will provide extensive immigration support to the people of Northern Ireland. Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency in Scotland and Northern Ireland said, “I am delighted that we are officially opening the new office in Belfast, which is designed to meet the needs of migrants living and working legally in Northern Ireland, and to address the problem of those who seek to break our immigration laws and to cause harm in our society. Our investment in this office will create 25 new jobs, to ensure that the service we provide to the people of Northern Ireland is the best it can be.”
The Rt Hon Paul Goggins MP, Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East and Minister of State for Northern Ireland also commented, “This office will help ensure that those who come to live and work legally in Northern Ireland receive the advice and support they need, whilst also dealing appropriately with those who are in Northern Ireland illegally. The partnership between the UK Border Agency, the PSNI, the Gangmaster Licensing Authority and others will bring real benefits to everyone involved.”