Indian immigrants fear being deprived of stay in UK

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London, Nov 23 (UNI) Even as the Indian immigrants in UK had recently won an appeal in the immigration tribunal court on human rights ground, they fear that courts may rule against arbitrary immigration laws which could deprive them of their further stay in the country.

The Highly Skilled Migrant Professionals (HSMP) immigrants, of whom about 33,000 were Indians, were given a ''discretionary leave to remain'' rather than an HSMP extension by the Home Office.

HSMP Executive Director Amit Kapadia said discretionary leave was usually issued to Asylum Seekers and over-stayers.

As per the Immigration Rules for Discretionary Leave one cannot apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), until completion of six years as the grantee of Discretionary Leave only and at the discretion of the Secretary of State. ''Thus depriving the HSMP holders of permanent settlement as promised initial.

The qualifying period for ILR as an HSMP holder is five years now.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma who had felt relieved after winning his appeal later realised that he was given discretionary leave to stay.

''This is grossly unfair. I and my family had a long delayed fight in the courts to get our HSMP extension but in return we came to know that I will lose my HSMP status itself and would be given a discretionary leave, which will deprive our further stay in this country after three years. The courts also accepted that the Home Office has been unfair but injustice prevails.'' Mr Sharma said.

HSMP Forum member of Executive Committee, Sreekumar Nair, said, ''The Home Office is treating HSMP holders as asylum seekers and over-stayers. This is the worst treatment an elected government of a country can give to highly skilled migrants who have been enticed to come to UK to contribute for the economy.'' ''This is treachery keeping in mind the appeals were won on human rights grounds connected to the HSMP status and after highlighting the unfairness of the broken promises which were made by the Home Office,'' Mr Kapadia said.

The parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report recently condemned the retrospective rule changes made to HSMP and in its recommendations stated, ''We therefore recommend that the Immigration Rules be urgently amended so that both the lengthening of the qualifying period for settlement and the introduction of stricter requirements for the extension of leave apply to future applicants to the HSMP.'' ''We recommend that the Government accept that where a change to the Immigration Rules engages a Convention right (as here), it does not have an unfettered power to make changes to the Rules, and that where a change would lead to an interference with a right such as the right to respect for home and family life, the requirement that any such interference be in accordance with the law requires that such changes should be prospective only. We also recommend that changes to the Immigration Rules should always be accompanied by a statement as to the compatibility of the changes with the ECHR.'' The Forum is set to take up the issue at a judicial review fixed for end of this month.

UNI

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