Indian professionals oppose new UK visa move

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London, Nov 7: A leading organisation espousing the cause of Indian and non-EU professionals has strongly opposed the recommendation of a key committee that the salary threshold for professionals seeking to permanently settle in the UK be raised considerably.

Raising the threshold as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will make thousands of Indian and non-EU professionals working here ineligible for permanent settlement, which is called the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The latest report of the MAC says: "To ensure greater differentiation in the selection decision, we suggest implementing a minimum annual pay threshold. This could reasonably be between 31,000 pounds and 49,000 pounds per year".

The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) Forum, which successfully challenged Home Office's immigration decisions in the past, has criticised the recommendation and said that the "whole idea of introducing such an income criteria is a blatant mockery of the system".

The current criterion for ILR is to show the salary drawn at the time of applying for previous extension.

Indian and other non-EU professionals can apply for ILR after working for five years and demonstrating continued employment.

If the MAC recommendation is accepted by the Home Office, which usually accepts its recommendations, it will mean that those earning an annual salary below 49,000 pounds or the final agreed figure will not be able to apply for the ILR.

However, MAC chairman David Metcalf has stated that some exceptions should be made in the public sector jobs "which will contribute to future economic growth".

Amit Kapadia, Executive Director of HSMP Forum said: "This is nothing but victimisation of migrants".

"After letting them stay on for five years and profiting from their taxes, the government cannot impose a new criteria to evict them from the country after they have invested their time and earnings into building a life in the UK, and contributed towards the UK economy".

The HSMP forum, he said, believed that introducing the income criterion will only create more problems and insecurity for the "already troubled migrants, who are hanging to their stability by a thread due to constant immigration changes".

Kapadia said: "We vehemently oppose these changes. The government is constantly victimising migrants and treating them like a punching bag to score their political points".

"A migrant who is good to come here, pay taxes and contribute to the UK economy, is the best and the brightest and should not be forced out from the UK when she seeks settlement.

"This is exploitation of the highest order. This is not good for the UK economy and UK's image in the long run"

PTI

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