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Three UK lawmakers back protest by non-EU professionals

The Home Office has refused indefinite stay to several professionals and their families due to the rectification of their income tax returns.

world Updated: Feb 21, 2018 21:50 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Britain,Home Office,Labour
Indian and other non-EU highly skilled professionals protesting outside the British parliament against immigration rules in London on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

Three British MPs extended their support to a group of more than 200 professionals from India and other non-EU countries, who staged a vocal protest outside Parliament on Wednesday against what they called “inhumane and unjust” immigration rules of the Home Office.

The Home Office has refused indefinite stay to several professionals and their families due to the rectification of their income tax returns. The rectification, they say, is allowed by tax authorities, but the Home Office construes it as evidence of dishonest conduct, leading to their applications for indefinite stay being refused.

The organisers are considering a hunger-strike and a judicial review of Home Office refusals.

Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the organisers of the protest, said Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Seema Malhotra (both Labour) and Alison Thewliss (Scottish National Party) supported their cause.

“Tax rectification is the main issue. We have all contributed taxes, many have been here for over a decade under the Tier (I) visa category, but now we are told that making changes in tax returns amounts to misconduct and also a security threat,” she said.

The professionals, who include IT experts, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and solicitors, hail from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among other non-EU countries. They staged a similar protest outside 10, Downing Street on January 30.

Nottingham-based Sandip, who arrived here as a student from New Delhi and moved to the Tier (I) work category after completing a course in engineering, said he has raised millions of pounds from investors in his property business, but his application for indefinite stay was turned down.

“My wife is a dentist, but she cannot work due to this. It is not only injustice but also inhuman to ask us to leave the country after contributing so much and raising our families here. The Home Office takes months to decide, we are living on our savings,” he said.

Indian and other non-EU highly skilled professionals protesting outside the British parliament against immigration rules in London on Wednesday. (HT Photo)

Cardiff-based Bhardwaj alleged that using rules meant to exclude criminals and terrorists to refuse indefinite stay to highly skilled migrants was a “backdoor” way to cut immigration, which is a key objective of the Conservative government.

“Tax error rectification is not illegal or unlawful anywhere in the world, and not even in the UK Financial Act, 2007,” she said, adding that between 600 and 1000 families were “in a limbo”.

Solicitor Nargis Awan said she was dealing with many such clients, who appeared to have been dealt with a “blanket” decision to refuse indefinite stay on the basis of alleged deception, when tax rules allow returns to be rectified.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We aim to resolve all visa applications as quickly as possible and we continue to meet service standards for straightforward applications.

“It is vital, however, that the correct decisions are made, particularly with complex Tier (I) applications that require detailed consideration and verification of evidence with HMRC (tax authorities). These robust checks are essential to avoid the potential abuse of our immigration or tax system. Where such abuse is identified, we will act accordingly.”

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 21:50 IST