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New UK visa bill to hit Goans, EU citizens

A new immigration bill to be introduced by the British government to end the unrestricted entry of EU citizens will affect Goans with Portuguese passports.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2017 12:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
British government,new immigration bill,Goans in UK
The family of Lington Monteiro (extreme left) with Goan friends Armando Gonsalves (in dark glasses), Jaime Barreto (extreme right) and others in Monteiro’s house garden in Swindon, Britain. ((HT Photo)

The Theresa May government on Wednesday unveiled plans for a new immigration bill that will end unrestricted entry of EU citizens after Brexit, which will also affect Goans with Portuguese passports, though no cut-off date was mentioned.

Details of the bill were announced after the Queen’s Speech that marked the state opening of the new Parliament after the June 8 election. Free movement of citizens within the 28-memberEuropean Unionwas part of the obligation of being a member of the grouping.

Large-scale immigration from withinthe EU – particularly after 2004 – was one of the key drivers for the June 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc. There remains much uncertainty over the continued stay of EU citizens – including thousands of Goans – in the UK as well as British citizens in EU countries.

A note on the new bill said: “We are introducing an Immigration Bill that allows us to end free movement in the UK and bring EU nationals within the UK’s immigration system...The Bill will allow the Government to control the number of people coming here from Europe while still allowing us to attract the brightest and the best.”

The bill will make the migration of EU nationals and their family members subject to relevant UK laws once Britain has left the EU, it added.

Tends of thousands of Goans surrendered their Indian citizenship and opted for Portuguese nationality under a provision applicable to persons born before Goa’s liberation on December 19, 1961, and their two generations. Until that date, Goa was under Portuguese rule.

As Portuguese citizens, the Goans become EU citizens and are so far entitled to migrate, live and work in any EU country. Most of them settled in Swindon, Leicester and parts of London.

The opposition Labour Party has demanded that the indefinite stay of EU citizens already in the UK be guaranteed, but May has linked this to the future of British citizens living in EU countries, which is to be decided during negotiations.

The future of both groups of people is one of the first items on the agenda of Brexit talks that began in Brussels this week between David Davis, secretary for Exiting the EU, and his Europeancounterparts.

First Published: Jun 21, 2017 19:18 IST