The Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy towards immigrants will be reviewed in the wake of the Windrush scandal, Sajid Javid said.
The new Home Secretary said that he regarded the phrase as a “negative term, a non-British term” and said there were lessons to be learned from the controversy, in which Britons were wrongly expatriated to Caribbean nations.
Mr Javid, who replaced Amber Rudd after she resigned at the end of April, said he wanted to replace the hostile environment with a “compliant environment” that distinguishes between illegal and legal immigrants.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I’m going to look at how it’s been implemented.
“I want to review aspects of the policy. I’ve already made some changes.”
One of the changes is suspending the ban on illegal immigrants opening bank accounts, he said, saying the Home Office was not sure its data was accurate enough.
He added: “From Windrush, I think there will be lessons to learn about how that compliant environment policy is actually implemented. Is it working the way that it was intended?”
Mr Javid also said he would like to “look again” at the inclusion of foreign students in net immigration figures, saying it had a “perception problem”, but adding that it was “not my most urgent priority”.
He also said he was taking a fresh look at the cap on “tier 2 visas” which allow non-EU foreign doctors to come to the UK.
Last week the The British Medical Journal said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside of the European Economic Area.
Mr Javid told Marr: “I see the problem with that and it is something that I’m taking a fresh look at.
“I know a number of my colleagues certainly want me to take a look at this and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: “The Home Secretary will have the support of almost everyone in Parliament to exclude students and medical staff from the immigration cap, but it’s far from clear that the Prime Minister is willing to admit her long-cherished policy is wrong.
“I hope Parliament can get to vote on this as soon as possible.”