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Category: States Assembly

Scrutiny Concerned by Reluctance to Bring in Costly Visa Vignettes for Skilled Workers

Apr 28, 2023

The Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel questioned the Minister for Home Affairs, Deputy Helen Miles, in a Quarterly Public Hearing on Thursday 27 April.

Following queries submitted by members of the public, the Panel questioned the Minister on the possibility of Jersey providing skilled workers with a ‘visa vignette’ for their passports or travel documents, rather than the Jersey Immigration stamp which is currently used. The Minister explained that vignettes, which are stuck inside an individual’s passport, are issued by visa application offices and are valid for the period of the visa, but that those wishing to have their visa permissions extended or changed would need to visit the Immigration Department in Jersey. The Immigration Department does not provide vignettes, but instead will use a ‘wet ink’ stamp to extend the length of stay.

The Panel was informed that some individuals had faced difficulties coming back into Jersey due to certain airlines not recognizing the validity of these stamps. The Minister emphasized that this has only impacted a “very small number” of people, stating that it would be “prohibitively expensive for Jersey to go down the line of producing their own vignettes”. She added that efforts are instead being focused on communications with airlines and with the UK Common Travel Area policy team to ensure that passengers are allowed to travel using their Jersey Immigration stamps.

The Panel also asked about damages needing to be paid following the police entering premises under deficient search warrants. The Panel heard that in 2022, “63% of the warrants that were executed by the drugs squad were successful”, and that there are currently no complaints recorded with regards to compensation being paid for conducting an erroneous warrant. Robin Smith, Chief Officer of States of Jersey Police noted that it is thanks to the Panel’s previous questioning on this issue that the police service is now looking at how data surrounding warrants can be collated and analysed in a more efficient way for the benefit of Islanders.

Following a public petition on the topic of banning loud fireworks which has reached over 2600 signatures, the Panel questioned the Minister on outcomes following the petition. In her official response to the petition in December, the Minister had expressed that she would like to see greater controls on the availability of the loudest kinds of fireworks. When questioned by the Panel about progress in bringing forward proposals to revise the regulations on this topic, the Minister confirmed that this work is “practically finished” and that an existing draft is now with law drafters for amendments. Whilst she noted that it was unfortunate that changes would likely not be in place in time for bonfire night this year, she added that these revisions should provide reassurances to pet owners and vulnerable individuals who may be “terribly disturbed” by the loudest fireworks.

Deputy Catherine Curtis, Chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel commented: “Whilst we understand that the issue with Jersey’s ‘wet ink’ immigration stamps not being recognized is only impacting a small minority of people, the Panel feels that it is of high importance that those skilled individuals returning to Jersey are not left stranded due to airlines not recognizing their official stamps as valid. We feel that the work being done to share information with relevant airports about these stamps may not be enough to ensure that all passengers in this situation will be permitted to travel, and we will be following up this issue to examine exactly what the associated costs would be with implementing vignettes.

“We were pleased to hear that our interest in the issue of police data collection around search warrants has prompted further work being done to make this data accessible. The Panel hopes to hear about progress in this area in future.”

States Assembly Press Notice

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