LONDON: There is the usual hue and cry over the British government’s decision to impose visa bond requirements from visitors of India and certain other so-called `high-risk’ countries.
Since many visitors from these countries disappear once they entry Britain, the UK government is introducing a pilot scheme from November under which visitors from India and other `high-risk’ countries will be required to deposit bonds worth 3,000 pounds before they enter Britain. The money will be returned to them when they leave Britain on expiry of the visa.
But the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in India said yesterday that “such blanket rules for visas will negatively affect not only businesses, especially small businesses, it will also further bring down the number of students going to the United Kingdom (UK) for higher studies and affect the tourism inflow from India to UK.’’
In Britain, HSMP Forum, a non-profit campaign group that claims to fight for the rights of immigrants from non-EU countries, has described the move as “unfair’’ visitors from India and countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.
“Government’s latest attempts at targeting Asian and African immigrants by imposing a £3,000 cash bond for visit visas is nothing short of a ludicrous proposition,” the forum said in a statement.
According to Amit Kapadia, who is the executive director of the HSMP Forum, “it very discriminatory that only nationals of African and Asian countries are being targeted. We are also concerned that the government may go ahead to apply the financial bond scheme for all kinds of visas at a later date.’’
Kapadia says, “The cash bond which will be introduced in November 2013 yet again undermines relationship with non-white commonwealth countries for e.g. India and other non-European countries. These countries may find the tag of “high risk” very derogatory and may consider levying similar sort of counter measures.
Even Goan-origin MP Keith Vaz has said that the new rule “flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s intention to attract the brightest and best to Britain and sends out the wrong message to the countries concerned.’’
Vaz, who is the Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has warned that such measures will antagonize migrant communities. ”I am worried that the plans could potentially alienate already settled communities in the UK.’’
Despite these protests, it must not be forgotten that many visitors from India and other countries exploit the visitor visa system to enter Britain and then disappear. Further, Britain is well within its rights to regulate the entry of anybody into the country after all the troubles caused some immigrant groups.
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