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UK docs ruling to benefit other professionals too

india Updated: Nov 13, 2007 04:05 IST
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Indian professionals in the UK such as accountants, bankers and marketing executives are also expected to benefit from last Friday's court ruling on treating doctors from India and other non-European Union countries on par with British and EU candidates for employment purposes.

The ruling, lodged by the British Association of Physicians of Indian origin (BAPIO), spread a wave of cheer among thousands of Indian and other non-EU doctors working in training jobs or aspiring to work in the National Health Service.

Exerts believe that a fallout of the rule is that it will brighten the employment prospects of thousands of other Indian professionals currently in Britain under the Highly Skilled Migrants Pprogramme (HSMP). The ruling held that Indian and other non-EU doctors under the HSMP need to be considered at par with British and EU doctors for employment.

Amit Kapadia, executive director of the campaigning group HSMP Forum, told IANS: "The decision from the Court of Appeals in BAPIO's case would not only remove discriminatory and unlawful rules for doctors on HSMP but also all the other professionals."

"Accountants, Techies, Engineers, Marketers will also benefit from such rulings, as employers will have to stop unlawfully applying such discriminatory rules of restricting HSMP holders from applying for permanent positions due to their limited leave to remain and also because of the draconian extension rules introduced by the Home Office".

Indian professionals under the HSMP who have a limited period of stay in Britain find it difficult to gain employment because employers prefer to recruit candidates who have no restrictions on their stay here.

Under the HSMP category, overseas professionals are first given one or two years leave to remain in Britain. If they show that they are economically active during this period, they are given further extensions. Kapadia said he was aware of several cases of non-EU professionals being refused jobs in writing because of their HSMP status.

A major British bank recently wrote to an HSMP holder: "According to your online application form you are currently using a highly skilled migrant worker visa. Unfortunately this is the reason we are unable to proceed with your application."

"(Our) company policy states that to be eligible to apply, candidates must have the indefinite right to remain in the UK. I would like to stress that the decision was not made based on your qualifications or skills".

After the Friday ruling, Kapadia said that it will be illegal for employers to deny employment to HSMP professionals on the ground of their HSMP status.

The legal challenge brought by HSMP Forum against retrospective change to HSMP criteria introduced in November 2006 is scheduled to be heard on November 30. Another immigration-related case affecting thousands of Indian professionals under the Work Permit scheme is scheduled for hearing on December 17 and 18. This case relates to raising of the qualifying period for permanent stay in the UK from four to five years.

Kapadia hoped for a favourable outcome of the cases, particularly after the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights severely criticised the changes to HSMP rules and raising the qualifying period for permanent settlement from four to five years. The committee, in its report in August, called for urgent amendment of immigration rules to remove the retrospective aspect of the rules.

According to Kapadia, the Home Office had privately accepted its mistakes in relation to HSMP holders who came under the programme between June 2006 and November 2006.

Kapadia said: "This has been just one of the many blunders made by the Home Office. We have been highlighting certain discrepancies since the past one year but the Home Office very recently (since July 2007) started accepting one of their mistakes."

"Some of the HSMP holders were issued the initial one year visa between April and November 2006 while some were issued two years and also for HSMP extensions while some have been issued three years visa during the same time and others have been given four years."

"This late response of the Home Office will just help some handful affected HSMP holders temporarily who got their initial HSMP visa between June 2006 and November 2006. We are still waiting for the Home Office to come forward and correct their blunder of retrospectively applying new qualifying criteria for HSMP extension and permanent residency to existing resident HSMP visa-holders."

(Prasun Sonwalkar can be contacted at prasun.s@ians.in )