UK to Review Rejected Residency Applications of Indian Professionals
A group of highly skilled migrants in the United Kingdom had been protesting against the refusal to their Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) over minor mistakes.
The United Kingdom Home Office has agreed to review cases of highly skilled non-European Union immigrants whose applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) were rejected over minor mistakes in tax returns. A large number of professionals who faced the brunt of the rejections belonged to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.
Caroline Nokes, Britain’s Home Office Minister for Immigration, was questioned by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on May 9, over reports that highly skilled migrants who came in on a Tier 1 (General), which is now discontinued, are being refused ILR over minor, legally acceptable corrections in their tax returns.
“This potentially sends a terrible signal, does it not, to highly skilled people of Indian or Pakistani origin who have come over here and have contributed to the country, bringing their skills,” questioned John Woodcock, an independent MP from the committee, according to the Press Trust of India.
“Of course, I do not want this country to look like it is unwelcoming to people with high skills who have contributed a great deal. It is important to us that going forward we make sure we have culture change in the Home Office,” Nokes replied. According to the Hindu, she further said, “Many people make errors with their tax returns, but it is crucial that we understand the patterns that are happening.” She added: “It is not about using rules to have a ‘computer says no’ mentality.”
Nokes told the Chair of the committee, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who demanded to know why the minister had not asked for a review to check for fraud cases and trivial cases, that a review will be undertaken to investigate if there was a pattern of abuse or minor errors.
Sir Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary in the UK Home Office, assured the committee that he would look into the cases to see how many of these refusals are the result of a clear-cut case of deception and where perhaps “overzealous officials have been erring on the side of doubting people rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt.”
Indian skilled professionals assembled as a group, called the Highly Skilled Migrants group, to hold a protest outside the Parliament Square in London on May 2 against “unjustified” refusals by the UK Home Office of their applications for ILR. Those who went to the United Kingdom on a Tier 1 (General) visa were eligible to apply for the ILR or permanent residency status after living and working for a minimum of five years but the visa was scrapped in 2010. However, they were still eligible to apply until April 2018.
Most of those who applied for the ILR were refused based on the Rule 322(5) on almost automatic basis, according to reports. Rule 322(5) states the undesirability of permitting the person concerned to remain in the United Kingdom in the light of his character, conduct or associations or the fact that he represents a threat to national security.
After the UK Home Office said it would review the cases, the group responded saying that it was only a minor victory.
“There is a long way to go. Let us see how the Home Office proceeds on this review. It is shocking that the minister claims to have been unaware of these cases, when we have documentary evidence to prove that she had been made aware of this issue with Tier 1 applicants back in March,” Aditi Bhardwaj, the coordinator of the Highly Skilled Migrants group, said, PTI reported. The organization is now preparing its own dossier of evidence for the Home Affairs Select Committee.