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Pressure builds on UK govt to act on highly-skilled migrants issue

Vidya Ram London | Updated on May 11, 2018

Sajid Javid, Britain’s Home Secretary

Over 20,000 sign petition urging action by new Home Secretary

Pressure is building up on the British government to review a policy which has led to highly skilled Indians being denied the right to remain in Britain, and potentially facing deportation, because of minor errors in their tax returns, as thousands have signed up a petition urging action by Britain’s new Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The petition which urges Javid to “stop abusing the national security clause to deport highly skilled migrants” had over 20,000 signatories less than a day after going live on the petition site 38 degrees. It comes after Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes told a Parliamentary committee she would look into the issue, after concerns were raised by MPs about highly skilled migrants, particularly of South Asian origin, being denied an indefinite leave to remain in the UK because they had made minor changes to their tax submissions.

“The petition reflects the huge amount of support we have from the public on the issue…they don’t want to see people being treated like criminals just because of minor tax rectifications,” says Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the founders of the Highly Skilled Migrants UK group that brought the issue to light. During a Parliamentary hearing earlier this week, Nokes admitted that many people — “probably” including herself and members of her family — made minor rectifications to their tax returns.

Immigration rules

The campaign group, which has come together over the past few months, has noted that an increasing number of men and women who had come to the UK on Tier-1 Highly Skilled visas were being denied the right to remain using clause 322 (5) of the immigration rules which allow for refusal based on the “undesirability” of the person remaining in the UK based on convictions, character or the fact that they represented a threat to national security.

“The clause is designed to combat terrorism and should only be used in cases where an individual poses a genuine threat to national security,” reads the petition, which accuses the government of abusing the rules to deport doctors, engineers, lawyers and others. “It’s destroying lives of families who have come here legally and worked hard for years paying taxes and contributing to our society,” the petition says.

“There are cases of people who can no longer get treatment for free on the NHS because they are being told they are going to be detained and people who are sleeping in their clothes because they fear being taken to a removal centre, specifically because of the way that your Department is treating what are either negligible or minor mistakes in their tax submissions,” said John Woodcock, one of the MPs on the Home Affairs committee that questioned Nokes earlier this week. Nokes told the committee that she would ask the department to look into the issue — a commitment that was welcomed cautiously by campaigners who believe there is a long way to go on the issue.

Published on May 11, 2018

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