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More British MPs back Indian professionals in visa row

Nearly 1,000 highly skilled professionals have been affected after immigration officials used paragraph 322 (5) of the Immigration Act to refuse them indefinite leave to remain in the country

world Updated: Jun 05, 2018 21:20 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
British MPs,Sajid Javid,India
Indian and other non-EU professionals demonstrating outside the British parliament in London on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

Several MPs and members of the House of Lords on Tuesday joined a demonstration outside the British Parliament and extended support to Indian and other non-EU professionals hit by the Home Office using a rule meant for terrorists and criminals to deny them permanent stay in the country.

This was the fourth such demonstration since January.

Nearly 1,000 highly skilled professionals have been affected after immigration officials used paragraph 322 (5) of the Immigration Act to refuse them indefinite leave to remain in the country after at least four years of stay in the UK, paying taxes and contributing to the economy.

Home secretary Sajid Javid has promised a review of their applications and a stay on using the dreaded rule that was invoked when applications showed the professionals had rectified their tax returns, which was construed as indication of dishonest conduct.

Refusal entails no permission to work and other consequences, including deportation.

Lawmakers who promised support inside and outside Parliament included Stephen Doughty (Labour), Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party), Stephen McCabe (Labour), Ruth Cadbury (Labour), Afzal Khan (Labour) and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Labour).

Aditi Bhardwaj, co-organiser of the protest, said there had been no update from the Home Office after Javid’s announcement of the review in a letter to the Home Affairs Committee of Parliament last week. She added that many lives had been turned upside down due to the use of the rule.

“The review announcement is fine, but what is the Home Office doing about those who have already been affected and have come again today to protest from all over Britain. They are still unable to work due to the refusal. We are yet to see any positive development,” she said.

Indian and other non-EU professionals demonstrating outside the British parliament in London on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

The row developed as part of what is called the policy of “hostile environment” of the Home Office seeking to reduce immigration into Britain. The professionals – such as solicitors, doctors, chemists and teachers – had come on the Tier 1 (General) visa.

Javid informed the Home Affairs Committee: “I have asked the Immigration Minister to conduct a review of the cohort of cases who arrived under the Tier 1 General route and were refused due to discrepancies with their HMRC (tax) records.

“I can confirm that all applications potentially falling for refusal under the character and conduct provisions of paragraph 322(5) in the Tier 1 (General) ILR and 10-year Long Residency routes, where the applicant had previously been in the Tier 1 (General) route, have been put on hold pending the findings of the current review.”

As part of the review, Javid said the Home Office was also checking individual case records to identify any applicants who were removed from the United Kingdom having been refused permanent stay under paragraph 322(5).

“We have identified 19 individuals who were refused indefinite leave to remain and subsequently made voluntary departures from the UK. One has since been issued with a visa to return to the UK having applied under a different provision of the immigration rules,” he wrote.

First Published: Jun 05, 2018 21:20 IST