Bishop & Sewell

In another article for leading immigration news site Free Movement, Karma Hickman in our Immigration team discusses Boris Johnson’s “immigration amnesty” and what it would mean.

immigration amnesty

Boris Johnson’s “immigration amnesty” – what would it mean?

Boris Johnson’s suggestion of an “amnesty for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants”, as the Daily Mail puts it, has ruffled some right-wing feathers, but would it really revolutionise UK immigration policy?

Johnson, who looks set to secure victory in the Conservative leadership race, told the paper he supported the idea of an immigration amnesty for those who have lived here for 15 years, so long as they have “played by the rules”.  The interview contained no further detail, with Johnson merely indicating he was open to the idea.

I think if people have been here for a very long time, and they haven’t fallen foul of the law and they have played by the rules, all I will say is we should look at it,” ITV News quoted him as saying.

The former Foreign Secretary’s idea has predictably drawn fire from anti-immigration think-tank Migration Watch, on the basis it that would encourage “illegal inflows”.

Frankly, Johnson’s remarks are unlikely to have much impact any time soon. Firstly, he is not yet Prime Minister. Secondly, even if he wins, he will have many more immediately pressing issues to tackle. Thirdly, he would undoubtedly face strong opposition from his own party given its stance on immigration. Fourthly, the lack of any real detail raises questions about how serious he is.

Johnson’s past amnesty flirtations

Yet it would be a mistake to dismiss his comments out of hand.

Johnson has a long history of calling for an immigration amnesty dating back to his time as London’s Mayor, when he commissioned a May 2009 report on the issue. This looked at the economic impact of an immigration amnesty for migrants with no criminal convictions who had lived in the UK for five years. The report did not look at how a “regularisation scheme” would operate but was essentially favourable to the proposal … The full article can be found here.

For advice on making a visa, immigration or nationality application or immigration matters more widely, please contact Karma or another member of our expert Immigration Team on 020 7631 4141 or email

Category: Blog | Date: 12th Jul 2019

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