LONDON — Indian business leaders have criticised plans to make visitors pay a 3,000 “security bond” to enter the UK.
The idea, to be piloted from November, is aimed at deterring people from “high risk” countries staying in the UK once their short-term visas expire.
Under the plan, they would forfeit the money unless they left when required.
The Confederation of Indian Industry said it was “highly discriminatory” but Home Secretary Theresa May defended the “selective” approach to migration.
The UK government says the problem of so-called “overstayers” is one of the biggest challenges facing the immigration system and they want to target visitors from certain countries who present the greatest risk.
Although it has yet to be confirmed, it has been reported that visitors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria will be required to deposit 3,000 ($4,600) for a six-month visa, to be forfeited if they don’t leave when they should.
The Confederation of Indian Industry, which represents the country’s largest businesses, said the plan was “very unfortunate” and risked further undermining Anglo-Indian relations already strained by changes to the UK visa regime for students.
“We share the UK’s concern on illegal immigration but surely there are other more effective and non-discriminatory ways to put a check on it,” it said in a statement.
It added that this and other recent changes threatened the “special relationship” that UK politicians often speak of with India.
“The industry in India is disappointed by the way the immigration rules in UK have been changing over the last few years.
“It strongly feels that such blanket rules for visas will negatively affect not only businesses, especially small businesses, it will also further bring down the number of students going to UK for higher studies and affect the tourism inflow from India to UK.”
Nigerian politicians have also criticised the plan as “unacceptable” and pledged to stand up for their country’s interests.
“They should realise that it is not in the best interests of the UK,” said Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in the country’s House of Representatives. (BBC)