Highly Skilled Indians to Protest Over Immigration Policies in UK

The Highly Skilled Migrants group says UK government delayed or refused to process their residency applications.


Indian professionals have escalated their fight against what they consider are hostile immigration policies of the United Kingdom government, PTI reported. Indians have joined forces with migrants from other non-European Union countries under the umbrella of the Highly Skilled Migrants group to stage a protest outside the UK Parliament on Feb. 21.

The Highly Skilled Migrants group represents nearly 1,000 doctors, engineers, IT professionals and teachers from countries outside the European Union. The group, which held its first protest outside Downing Street last month, is bringing together migrants from South Asia and Africa for this protest against delays and refusals by the UK Home office for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) applications in the country. The migrants who are attending the protest are mainly from from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

“More and more people are joining in as it becomes clear they are being denied the right to live and work in the UK on no valid grounds,” Aditi Bhardwaj, one of the organizers of the group, was quoted as saying in the report. As per law, professionals who are in the United Kingdom with Tier 1 (general) visa are eligible to apply for ILR or permanent residency status after five years of their stay in the country.

Although the visa category used by numerous software and other professionals from India was discontinued in 2010, applicants are still eligible to apply for residency in the United Kingdom till April this year, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

The Highly Skilled Migrants group cites hundreds of cases where the ILR applications were unncessarily delayed or refused on basis of a section of the UK Immigration Act. The act addresses criminals and tax evaders. “Skilled migrants with excellent educational and professional skills are being refused ILR. They are being referred to as a threat to the country just because they might have filled their tax late or had to maybe amend their taxes, which is permitted by law,” Bhardwaj said, the news agency reported.

The group has gathered nearly 22,500 signatures on an online petition on website, called “Stop creating hostile environment for immigrants.” The petition is written to British Prime Minister Theresa May, UK Home secretary Amber Rudd and Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The petition, which will be given to British MPs, says: “Those immigrants who were mainly on a highly skilled programme in the UK, working in respectable industries and positions are going through almost inhumane conditions, the petition reads. We want the UKVI [UK Visas and Immigration] to start processing the applications within the service standard times at the least — which is six months.”

The petition will be given to British MPs at a meeting in the House of Commons complex on March 6.The group has been invited for this meeting, as British Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Dhesi and Pakistani-origin British MP Afzal Khan back their cause.

“Indeed, there are delays affecting applicants for virtually every kind of visas, and the handling of such matters by the Home Office is a cause of great concern for myself and many parliamentarians,” Dhesi, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Visas and Immigration, was quoted as saying.

However, the Home Office has a different story to tell. A Home Office spokesperson said that a significant number of Tier 1 applicants have reported different figures to them (Home Office) and the UK tax department (HMRC) so as to alter their tax liabilities or meet the requirements of the immigration rules, or both. According to the UK government, there is clear evidence that applicants have lied on their visa forms.

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