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Use of anti-terror laws to deport skilled migrants suspended; activists hail move

Vidya Ram London | Updated on May 30, 2018

Sajid Javid, UK Home Secretary   -  REUTERS

Action sought to identify those impacted and support those unable to work

Campaigners have welcomed a decision by the British Home Office to suspend the use of rules designed to prevent the settlement of criminals and terrorists against highly skilled workers – including many Indians – on the basis of changes (often minor) they have made to their tax submissions.

Britain’s new Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the first South Asian-origin person to hold one of the top four cabinet posts in the UK, and tasked with restoring confidence to Britain’s Home Office, said that all applications for indefinite leave to remain in Britain, which were facing refusal because of the use of the now notorious Paragraph 322 (5) of Britain’s anti-terror laws, would be put on hold pending the findings of a review. “We are checking individual case records to identify any applicants who were removed having been refused Indefinite Leave to Remain under paragraph 322 (5),” he wrote in a letter to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee .

The department had identified 19 people to date who had been refused ILR on these grounds and left the country before facing deportation. A review, which will seek to identify more of those caught up, is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

The campaign group, Highly Skilled UK, welcomed the developments and the commitment to tackling the issue demonstrated by Javid. However, they believe more action is needed — both to identify all those impacted and to provide relief to those currently unable to work because of their uncertain immigration status over the use of 322 (5).

‘Significant numbers’

“This is quite welcome, we are aware of a number of cases still pending,” said Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the campaign’s founders. “Its good that the Home Secretary appears to be taking the situation seriously.” However, she believes the figure of those forced to leave Britain after their ILR applications had been refused well exceeded the government’s current figures. “Our campaign group alone is aware of at least 6 people from India who have left Britain because of this.”

A further protest is set to take place on June 5. While the Highly Skilled UK protests have to date largely involved South Asians (from across the subcontinent), the publicity the campaign group had gained in recent weeks had resulted in Turkish and other citizens contacting the group. “We are expecting significant numbers of people,” said Bhardwaj. The group will be calling for those currently in limbo to have the right to work, access health care and other public services — rights that had been removed for them amid delays and indecision over reviews of their right to remain.

“We’ve seen the breakdown of families, people suffering incredible anxiety and stress, losing jobs and homes, surviving with money from friends,” she said.

Tax rectifications

The treatment of highly skilled workers has gained increased attention from the public as well as in Parliament, with MPs putting together a group to identify those impacted. They are critical of the use of Article 322 (5), which deals with ‘character’ and ‘security’ issues against highly skilled workers who have been in Britain for over 5 years under the tier I Highly Skilled visa programme (now no longer place) because they made rectifications to their tax filings.

Tax rectifications are common place in the UK self-assessment system, as even ministers admitted, and in the case of highly skilled workers, the rectifications had been accepted by Britain’s tax authorities.

Published on May 30, 2018

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