The UK government’s has decided to introduce a pilot scheme that would charge visitors of six “high risk” countries £3000 over their visa fees as an immigration bong.
In a bid to tackle illegal immigration, the UK Home Office has launched a pilot scheme to charge a bond of £3000 to adult nationals of six countries intending to visit the UK. The countries termed as “high risk” were India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria. The scheme was set up to deter visitors from overstaying their visas.
This scheme is due to run for 12 months starting from November 2013. The bond payment would be returned if the visitor returned to their home country after the visit visa expires.
Australia and New Zealand have similar schemes where financial bonds are applied to visitors in order to mitigate the risk of them overstaying their visa.
“This is the next step in making sure our immigration system is more selective, bringing down net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands while still welcoming the brightest and the best to Britain,” said UK Home Secretary Theresa May.
This scheme has received criticism from several ministers and agencies.
“The Home Secretary’s plans for bonds for visitors from certain countries are unfair and discriminatory. The bond level of £3000 is completely unrealistic. If somebody was determined to work here illegally this could be earned back in a matter of months,” said British MP Keith Vaz.
According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) statement, “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. This will also not help the cause of early conclusion of EU-India FTA, for which both the parties are committed.”