HC Deb 09 January 2003 vol 397 cc319-20W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines are issued to hon. Members hotlines on what length of time must expire in the process of a visa application before an hon. Member's staff are permitted to make enquiries to the hon. Member's hotline; and what steps he has taken to communicate these guidelines to hon. Members. [88701]

Beverley Hughes

The Member of Parliament's hotline was set up to deal with general immigration inquiries of an urgent or compassionate nature. From 1 July 2002 this has been expanded to include urgent and compassionate enquiries about asylum, appeal or removal casework.

I wrote to all the hon. Members on 18 July setting out the new arrangements and enclosing copies of an updated leaflet "Information for Members of Parliament about immigration and nationality enquiries".

Hon. Members may make inquiries about the progress of applications at any time. However, applications for variation of leave to enter or remain are dealt with in order of receipt in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). Initial consideration is currently taking 10 weeks. Complex cases which cannot be decided at this stage can take around 12 months to be determined. However, if the inquiry is about an application which is still awaiting a decision by IND for over six months or where compelling evidence is provided of compassionate reasons for resolving the application quickly, the hotline and casework teams will endeavour to complete it or explain why that is not possible.