London, Dec 19: Indian-born Labour MP for Leicester East Keith Vaz has criticised the Gordon Brown Government"s move to make families pay bonds of up to 1,000 pounds to sponsor visits by foreign relatives.
Describing the rule as discriminatory, Vaz said families staging big weddings could not be expected to afford to put up 20,000 pounds to sponsor the 20 relatives who might be planning to attend. Vaz, who is chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, was quoted by The Independent as saying that, "I hope the Government will listen to local communities and MPs who have large immigration caseloads."
Ministers believe the plan will deter visitors from remaining in the country after their permission to stay runs out.
The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the charge would indirectly discriminate against ethnic minorities, who would see it as a deliberate obstacle to deter visitors.
Its chief executive, Habib Rahman, added: "It will create hardship for families. This means only people with fat wallets will be able to bring their families."
Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said the financial guarantee would not apply to all visitors, just those considered at risk of failing to return home.
He also announced that more than one million fingerprints had been collected from foreign nationals planning to visit the UK as part of its biometrics visas programme.
The proposals were set out in a Home Office paper that also floated the idea of cutting the length of tourist visas and creating a new business visa and a one-off visa for such events as the 2012 Olympics.