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UK migrants face new hurdles

Some immigrants of Indian origin who were refused further extension, have been given a ‘discretionary leave to remain’, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2007 18:04 IST
Vijay Dutt

British courts may have struck down the recent immigration law as discriminatory towards highly skilled migrant professionals (HSMPs) from non-European Union countries, but bureaucrats here still appear determined to use other means to circumvent the ruling.

More than 33,000 of the non-EU HSMPs are of Indian origin.

"In yet another betrayal by the Home Office, HSMP immigrants who were refused further extension and have won their appeals in the immigration tribunal courts on human rights grounds have been given a ‘discretionary leave to remain’ rather than a proper extension," said Amit Kapadia, Executive Director, HSMP Forum.

He said that this particular status — discretionary leave — is usually given to asylum seekers or those who have overstayed after their visas lapsed.

Those enjoying discretionary leave status cannot apply for 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' (ILR), until they have spent six years in the country. Then too the office of the secretary of state has the discretion of striking it down. In comparison, HSMPs qualify for ILR after five years.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma, who had petitioned the court against the discriminatory order, realised what was in store when he went to get his visa stamped for an extension as an HSMP. "This is grossly unfair. I undertook a prolonged court battle to get our HSMP extension but in return we came to know that I will lose my HSMP status itself and would be given a discretionary leave," said Sharma.

Sreekumar Nair, Member of Executive Committee, HSMP Forum said "This is the worst treatment an elected government of a country can give to highly skilled migrants who have been enticed to come to UK to contribute for the economy," said Sreekumar Nair, HSMP Forum executive member.

The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report recently condemned the retrospective rule changes made relating to the HSMPs.

"We recommend that the Government accept that where a change to the Immigration Rules engages a Convention right (as it does here), it does not have an unfettered power to make changes," it said.