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Indian professionals in UK served deportation orders

Most are unable to meet the eligibility criteria under Highly Skilled Migrants Programme.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2007 16:45 IST

Deportation orders have been served on Indian professionals who are unable to meet the new eligibility criteria under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP), according to a group campaigning against the November 2006 changes to immigration rules.

Thousands of high-qualified Indian professionals have been adversely affected by the changes.

At a high-level meeting earlier this week, immigration minister Liam Bryne promised to 'review and reflect' on the changes in view of the difficulties they have caused.

However, within hours of the assurance to review the changes, it was learnt that several Indian professionals with PhDs and other qualifications have been served deportation orders, asking them to leave voluntarily or face removal to India.

The professionals have not been able to qualify for continued employment and stay in the Britain under the new points-based system introduced in November 2006.

Such professionals have received notices to leave the country, forcing them to wind up their establishments, careers, schooling of their children and investments.

S Ghosh, PhD in Engineering is one of the professionals facing deportation. He worked for a decade as an assistant professor of Electronics and Instrumentation at Bahrain University.

He moved to the Britain under the HSMP and has been teaching engineering students there.

"I came to the Britain under the HSMP in December 2005. I gave up the lucrative senior level job in Bahrain to avail this opportunity after the assurance from the British government, as clearly indicated in the HSMP rules that this programme would lead to settlement after four years qualifying residence provided I fulfil certain clearly defined criteria," Ghosh said. "The rules also guaranteed that my status would not be affected by any revisions to the HSMP rules."

Another professional facing deportation is George Joseph, PhD in Chemistry, who arrived in the Britain in December 2005 under the HSMP.

Joseph has received a notice from the Home Office stating that he no longer had the right to stay in the here, throwing his personal and profession life into uncertainty.

The letter to Joseph goes on to state: "If you do not leave the United Kingdom voluntarily, you will be removed to India."

Representatives of the Indian government and the HSMP Forum, a group campaigning to reverse the November 2006 changes, have been interacting with the British government asking for the November 2006 rules not to be applied retrospectively.

Amit Kapadia, coordinator of the HSMP Forum, demands the Home Office should take certain responsibility towards welfare of immigrants, who have come to Britain on the assurances by the Home Office inviting the people.

"The new policy of further visa extensions on a mechanical points based system implemented retrospectively in November 2006 has shown complete disregard towards the welfare of Indian HSMP immigrants," he said.

"The Home Office has disregarded the very sacrifices HSMP immigrants have offered migrating to Britain. We hope the Home Office will acknowledge the human suffering due to these unfair new rules and review the changes."

The issue has been taken up by British MPs across party lines and other pressure groups.

"A lot of these very talented people came to this country after borrowing money or giving up their jobs on a certain promise made by the Government. This kind of change in rules mid-stream will only damage Britain's reputation outside," said Lord Bhikhu Parekh.

Damian Green, Conservative spokesperson and shadow immigration minister, views the change in rules as unafraid and wrong-headed.

"It is unfair because the people involved have made a commitment to this country which is being flung back in their faces. It is wrong-headed because it sends a signal to highly-skilled people around the world that Britain is an unreliable place to work," he said.

"Conservatives want an immigration policy which is tough and thoughtful. The current government is talking tough but acting stupidly. It has failed to control our borders, so it is lashing out at precisely the people who benefit our economy.

This is another in the growing list of disasters from John Reid's Home Office."

Keith Vaz, Labour MP, said: "It is a slap on the face of those who had gone through proper process and complied with the regulations only to be left in the limbo regarding their future. We request the home secretary to change the rules."