LONDON: People from India, Pakistan and other so-called high-risk countries coming to Britain on six-month visitor visas will now be required to deposit a £3,000 cash bond before entering Britain.
This money will be kept by the British government if visitors do not return home on the expiry of their visas even as Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz, who is the Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has warned that such measures will antagonize friendly countries like India.
With 296,000 people from India getting six-month visitor visas last year, Indians topped the list of visitors to Britain in 2012.
As many 101,000 people from Nigeria, 53,000 from Pakistan and 14,000 from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka each were also given visitor visas to enter Britain last year.
But since the number of visitors from these `high-risk’ countries disappearing once they enter Britain is very high, the UK government has decided to introduce a pilot scheme from November under which people from these countries will be required to furnish bonds worth £3,000 before entering the country.
British Home Secretary Theresa May says the new scheme will impact visitors mainly from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh because of misuse of visitor visas by nationals from these countries.
Ms May told the Sunday Times of London, “This (pilot scheme) is the next step in making sure our immigration system is more selective, bringing down net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands while still welcoming the brightest and the best to Britain.’’
She added, “In the long run we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.’’
With Muslim fanatics becoming a threat to public security and rising sentiments against high levels of immigration, Britain is tightening immigration laws and reducing immigration to below 100,000 by 2015. Last year, just 74,000
Britain has already clamped down on foreign students and workers with tougher laws.