Asians step up campaign against UK’s ‘hostile’ immigration regime

London | Updated on February 05, 2018


Most of them are on Tier 1 Highly Skilled visa, which was closed by the government in 2010


A campaign, led largely by South Asians in Britain, is building against the treatment of immigrants. The protesters, who are in the country legally, believe a toughening of the domestic immigration regime is making it difficult for those attempting to gain an indefinite leave to remain in the country. This can have massive ramifications for the lives of the individuals and their families.

A first protest, which brought together men and women from India, Pakistan and other parts of the sub-continent, connected through social media, took place across the road from Downing Street last week. Another is set to take place in two weeks. A related petition urging the government to stop creating a hostile environment for immigrants has attracted over 22,100 signatories and continues to grow rapidly.

The petition is focussed around the plight of those highly-skilled workers applying for indefinite leave to remain in Britain, whose situation they believe has become considerably more difficult because of recent changes. Most were on the Tier 1 Highly Skilled visa category, closed by the British government, in 2010.

Problems faced by them include long delays in the application process, which can now take between 10 and 17 months, leaving those applying with no travel document to be able to leave the country if they need to. “Some of these people have lost their loved ones back home, ageing parents, family problems…jobs careers, everything is at stake for these people,” says the petition launched by Aditi Bhardwaj. She explained how her own life was turned upside down by the toughening regime, because of problems with her husband’s own application process, which left their own hopes of setting up a business upended, and the eventual collapse of their marriage.

Political agenda

While she has since obtained an indefinite leave to remain, she doesn’t want others to go what she went through. “People like me have been brought up to speak out and raise our voices but there are so many people I see through this campaign – struggling families destroyed by this – unable to speak out,” she told this paper.

While she believes the trend began in 2015, she fears it is accelerating with the campaign itself aware of 19 refusals of indefinite leave to remain happening in the past ten days. The wider societal cost she believes is underestimated, with the problems of those on the Tier 1 visa impacting those of partners on a spousal visa. She believes the clampdown on this route is being used as a means of meeting the government’s political agenda on immigration more widely.

The petition focusses on a particular aspect, picked up during last week’s protests, the decision to reject applicants from their permanent leave to remain based on issues with their tax filings – whether it was because of small amendments that they’d had to make to their filings, or because submissions had been delayed. While such issues were accepted as part of the course by tax authorities, they were being used to deny people the right to remain in Britain, in some cases resulting in the assessment that they posed a “threat to national security.”

“The immigration rules allows for refusals for people who are dishonest, they also allow refusals for people that are threats to national security, they are using people that have made a mistake and submitted a false document or an incorrect document and they are refusing them under ‘threats to national security’,” says Paul Turner, a barrister representing some of the campaigners, who points out that it is estimated that around a fifth of all self-employed tax forms contain some inaccuracy.

Published on February 05, 2018

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