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Britain to tighten immigration laws

Visitors from outside the EU will not be allowed to stay in the country for more than 3 months, reports Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Dec 18, 2007 19:37 IST
Vijay Dutt

Visitors to Britain from outside the European Union will not be allowed to stay in the country for more than three months, instead of the current six months, according to a plan likely to be announced by the government this week.

The plan tightening immigration laws, which will affect thousands of Indians, also includes revival of an old scheme that makes it mandatory for families with temporary visas sponsoring relatives to visit Britain to deposit £1,000 per head. The cash bond would be forfeited if the relatives overstayed.

A few years ago, when such a deposit was suggested, it led to an uproar in the Indian community, which ensured that it was dropped. Every year, thousands of Indians visit their relatives in the UK, many of them to attend marriages and family functions, the community had said against the scheme.

The measures will be part of a consultation document to be introduced by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne. The government has already announced several other changes to the visa rules, which Byrne described as the “biggest shake-up of the immigration system in history”. It includes a points-based system for economic migrants and the tightening of norms for people bringing their spouses to Britain.

A manager of a travel agency, which deals specially with tourists from India, told HT that “the scheme would be a death-knell in tourism from India”.