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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Eastern European visas restored
Group of Eastern Europeans
Many eastern Europeans are keen to work in the UK
The Home Office has lifted the suspension of employment-related visa applications from Romania and Bulgaria.

The decision - which is with immediate effect - comes after checks which the government says prove there is no evidence of widespread abuse.

A row over scams involving immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria cost the job of former minister Beverley Hughes.

Fruit firms were among those who wanted work-related visas restored.

In a Home Office statement Immigration Minister Des Browne said: "We are lifting the suspension of most work-related visa applications from Romania and Bulgaria, following checks which confirmed that they were not subject to widespread abuse and on the basis that the scope for abuse in these categories is being reduced by a range of measures.

Welcome

"European Community Association Agreements remain suspended pending a full review by senior Home Office Official Ken Sutton."

Mr Browne added: "Properly controlled migrant labour is vital to sustain many of our industries and services, plugging gaps that employers cannot fill with existing UK workers."

Responding to the announcement Tory agriculture spokesman John Whittingdale welcomed the news of the decision to restart processing visa applications in Bulgaria and Romania under the seasonal agricultural workers scheme.

He said: "We have been calling for this for a number of days as soft-fruit growers are desperate to obtain labour under the scheme in time for the harvest season.

"This scheme has operated successfully for over 50 years and it is only due to the shambles which the government has made of its immigration policy that this unnecessary suspension was ever introduced."




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