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UK tightens norms for immigrants

The immigrants from outside the EU will have to pass a points-based test to work there, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2007 03:25 IST
Vijay Dutt

Tough times are ahead for those doctors, teachers and post-graduate students from India who intend to stay on in Britain for a longer period.

The immigrants from outside the European Union will have to pass a points-based test to work in Britain from the next year. A counsellor said the new entrants must not close doors on opportunities back home at any cost. If they have to take loans, they must avoid coming.

The new system is said to be inspired by Australia's points-based test. By a strange happenstance, it was unveiled by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne while he was in Australia. Speaking from Sydney, Byrne said highly-skilled migrants would face the test from the new year. They will be followed by skilled migrants, such as nurses, the next autumn.

Amit Kapadia, coordinator of the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) Group, told the Hindustan Times, “The UK Home Office is adopting the Australian points-based system but at the same time they are ignoring the fact that Australia does not believe in retrospective application of its legislation. When Australia recently changed its citizenship rules, it did not apply the new legislation retrospectively to immigrants who got their permanent residency before the changes. The Home Office can adopt such fair policies and should remove the retrospective changes.”

Already almost 49,000 professionals, out of which 90 per cent are Indians, who came to Britain since 2002 under the HSMP, are in trouble. The HSMP entailed that their original visa for one year would be extended by three years and then they would be allowed to stay on depending on their economic success and performance. The rules were amended in November 2006 under ‘Migration: Points-based System’ and were given retrospective effect. These professionals have sought judicial review objecting to the retrospective effect of the new rules.

Byrne said the full regime would be up and running in early 2009. “Migration has to support Britain’s national interests. The new system will be simpler, clearer and easier to enforce. Crucially, it will give us the best way of letting in only those people who have something to offer Britain,” Byrne said.