Indian-Origin MP Calls For Debate on Treatment of Highly Skilled Immigrants in UK

Labour MP Seema Malhotra joined the protest held by the Highly Skilled Migrants Group in London.


Labor MP Seema Malhotra is calling for a debate in UK Parliament on how highly skilled immigrants from India are being treated by the Home Office, the Times of India reported. Malhotra attended the protest held by a 300-strong crowd of highly skilled immigrants from South Asia in London on Feb. 21.

The protest, which included about 60 Indians, was staged by highly skilled professionals like doctors, teachers, computer scientists, engineers under the umbrella of Highly Skilled Migrants Group outside the Parliament House on Feb. 21. Most of the participants were highly skilled professionals who were in the United Kingdom on Tier 1 visas, whose applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) were rejected because of mistakes or discrepancies in their tax returns.

The letter of rejection from Home office had categorized these applicants under paragraph 322(5) of the Immigration Rules used for criminals and terrorists. These letters of refusal will negatively impact their future visa applications for any other country, the protesters told the publication.

Some applicants were given 14 days to leave the country while some others were allowed to stay and fight their cases without working. Very few of them could appeal against it and continue to work. The protesters also said that they had to hand in their passports to the Home Office. The Home Office’s decision on their appeal often took years and without their passports, they could not travel overseas.

“There has to be an investigation into why they are using 322 (5),” Malhotra was quoted by the publication as saying. “It should not be used in this way destroying people’s livelihood, affecting their reputation and their ability to travel. There are ways of dealing with mistakes on a tax return but this rule should not be used in this way. I am going to call for a debate in Parliament about this.”

Malhotra is not the only British MP backing the protest. British Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Dhesi and Scottish National party’s Alison Thewliss are also behind the cause.

The protest came when the Opposition Labour Party made a speech about the hostile environment for immigrants in the country. “The NHS [National Health Service] crisis is caused by Tory cuts. One of its features is a huge shortage of doctors, nurses and other workers. And yet this government turns doctors away, in a failed effort to meet its net migration target,” Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said at King’s College London Policy Institute on Feb 21, according to PTI.

The Home Office resolves all visa applications “as quickly as possible,” the home office spokesperson said in a statement. “It is vital however that the correct decisions are made, particularly with complex Tier 1 applications that require detailed consideration and verification of evidence with HMRC. These robust checks are essential to avoid the potential abuse of our immigration or tax system. Where such abuse is identified, we will act accordingly,” the statement said.

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