Visa abuse crackdown announced with Vietnam as more migrants from country cross Channel

The Home Office has confirmed a new deal with Vietnam to tackle illegal migration and visa abuse.

The plan includes communication campaigns to discourage people from crossing the Channel in small boats and developing a “joint action plan” to combat human trafficking.

Officials said the agreement will “increase intelligence-sharing to tackle visa abuse” and “continue to facilitate the process for the return of those with no right to remain in the UK”.

Illegal immigration minister Michael Tomlinson and Senior Colonel Vu Van Hung, from Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, signed the joint statement of cooperation in London on Wednesday.

Vietnamese nationals made up 5 per cent of small boat arrivals in the UK in 2023, up from 1 per cent in 2022, Home Office figures show.

But this year more migrants from the country have made the perilous journey across the Channel than from any other.

The surge in Vietnamese people has been blamed by Number 10 for contributing to the record number of crossings this year.

On Sunday alone 534 people reached the UK, the highest in a single day this year. It brought the total this year to 6,265, up almost 30 per cent on 2022.

From 2018 to the end of 2023, there were 3,356 Vietnamese small boat arrivals, putting Vietnam in the top 10 source countries.

Mr Tomlinson said: “Only through continued close cooperation with our international partners will we dismantle the criminal networks profiting from this evil trade, and stop the boats.”Senior Colonel Vu Van Hung said: “Tackling illegal migration and human trafficking is hugely important and mutually beneficial to both countries.

“We are committed to working together on ensuring safe and legal routes and protecting victims of human trafficking.”

Vietnamese nationals are often trafficked to the UK by gangs to work in nail bars, cannabis farms and in the sex trade.

Last year a member of a people-smuggling gang admitted the manslaughter of 39 men, women and children who died in a lorry trailer in Essex.

The people, who were all from Vietnam, were brought into the UK in an airtight container, which had been transported by ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet on October 23 2019.

Marius Mihai Draghici was jailed for 12 years and seven months over the deaths.

In January Jozef Balog, a Slovakian national, was handed a jail sentence for attempting to bring a Vietnamese woman into Britain by cramming her into the dashboard of his car.

Shocking photos, taken by immigration officers, revealed the woman was wedged inside a tiny, custom-built hideaway behind the Vauxhall Vectra’s glovebox.