lbanian migrants to the UK are unlikely to be at risk in their own country or require asylum, a cross-party group of MPs has found.
However, more needs to be done to support the Albanian victims of people smuggling, especially women, the Home Affairs Select Committee said.
In a report published on Monday focusing on Albania, the committee said there was no clear basis for the UK to accept thousands of asylum applications from Albanian citizens.
It comes after migration data revealed more than a quarter of the 45,755 people who crossed the English Channel in small boats in 2022 were Albanian, most of whom made an asylum claim.
The number of Albanians making the channel crossing in small boats rose from 800 in 2021 to 12,301 last year.
The UK should look at how access to work visa schemes can be improved to fill our skills or staffing gaps while offering Albanian nationals a route to higher income, benefiting both nations
Labour chair of the committee Dame Diana Johnson MP said: “Such a substantial sudden increase in asylum claims from a seemingly peaceful country understandably raised concerns.
“While it is important that questions are asked and lessons are learnt, it is clear that the immigration picture is not static and will continue to evolve.
“New challenges are likely to continue to emerge and it is important that the UK improves its overall approach to asylum, rather than focus on one country.”
The committee said the main driver of migration from Albania was economic and recommended the Government promote seasonal work visas in agriculture and construction to give more Albanians the opportunity to come to the UK without making unauthorised channel crossings.
The committee also said that while claims for political asylum “should not normally be entertained”, there are “unquestionably cases of Albanian citizens being trafficked to the UK”.
It said appropriate safeguards must be in place before any victims of trafficking are returned to Albania and also recommended the UK maintain strong links with the country’s government.
Dame Diana added: “Changes in migration will inevitably place strain on any system, but the Government must do much more to ensure it can better handle these stresses.
“Most importantly, it must improve the speed of decision-making and clear the backlog as we set out in our Channel crossings report in 2022. We expect the Home Office to set out how it plans to achieve this.
“People will continue to be attracted to the UK from Albania while it continues to offer job opportunities and higher wages.
“The UK should look at how access to work visa schemes can be improved to fill our skills or staffing gaps while offering Albanian nationals a route to higher income, benefiting both nations.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “This Government’s priority is stopping the boats.
“Last year, 28% of those who arrived by small boat to the UK were from Albania — a safe European country and Nato ally — placing further strain on our asylum system.
“We’ve worked closely with the Albanian government to disrupt criminal gangs and deter illegal migration.
“In the five months to the end of May, Albanian small boat arrivals are down 90% on last year and we have returned 1,800 illegal migrants and foreign criminals back to Albania.
“Thanks to changes to our asylum system, we have gone from accepting one in five Albanian asylum claims to just one in 50, in line with other European countries.
“We will carefully consider the report and respond in due course.”