press trust of india
London, 25 June: The British government’s plans to demand a hefty visa bond from visitors of certain “high-risk” countries such as India continued to create furore in the UK with many calling it “unfair” and “discriminatory”.
The HSMP Forum, a non-profit campaign group that fights for the rights of Indian and other non-EU immigrants to the country, became the latest group to voice its concerns around the “unfair” pilot scheme which will target nationals of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.
“I find 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,” said Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum.
“These new changes mean the bond money would make it even more difficult for immigrants to invite their family members to visit them in the UK on a temporary basis. This government seems to be very persistent in making non-European immigrants lives difficult in order to achieve their political goals,” he added.
The forum echoed serious concerns raised over the issue by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which has termed the plans as “discriminatory”. “The suggested changes are not only discriminatory they are also against the ‘special relationship’ publicised by the UK government.
“We share the UK’s concern on illegal immigration but surely there are other more effective and non-discriminatory ways to put a check on it,” the CII had said in a statement yesterday.
The UK Home Office has announced the pilot scheme for the six high-risk Afro-Asian countries to run for 12 months from November.
Under the plans, certain visitors from these countries planning a visit to Britain will be required to furnish a refundable 3,000 pounds bond in a bid to prevent them overstaying their visa.
“The Home Secretary’s (Theresa May) plans for bonds for visitors from certain countries are unfair and discriminatory. This 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. I am worried that the plans could potentially alienate already settled communities in the UK,” said senior British Indian MP Keith Vaz, who will be raising the issue at the parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee meeting next month.