Monday, 24 June 2013

Indians need to pay £3,000 visa fee before entering the United Kingdom

Posted by Siva Kumar Ari
With the aim to crack down on abuse and fraud of the immigration system, the British government is adopting a tougher line to deter visitors who stay on in the country after their visas expire.

Under a new scheme, thousands of visitors from India will be forced to pay a whopping £3,000 cash bond (at current currency exchange rates that works out to about Rs 2.75 lakh) to be allowed to enter Britain.


They will be returned the money only when they leave the country. However, if they fail to depart after their visas expires, the visitors will automatically forfeit the £3,000.

Home Secretary Theresa May said, “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.”

The project has the backing of Conservatives’ coalition partners, the Lib Dems. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg explained, “The challenge isn’t just stopping people coming into Britain illegally, it’s about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately but then become illegal once they’re already here.”

He added, “The bonds would need to be well targeted - so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups.”

Pilot scheme in November
The British government is planning to pilot a scheme from November for people on six-month visit visas from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The purpose is to make the immigration system more ‘selective’ and prevent people from ‘overstaying’ once their visitor visa has expired.

The countries selected are deemed “high risk” because of the large number of visa applications and significantly high levels of immigration abuse and fraud.

About 2.2 million people are granted visas to enter Britain every year. Nearly 2,96,000 people from India, 101,000 from Nigeria, 53,000 from Pakistan and 14,000 each were from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were granted visas last year.

In the first leg of the scheme, a few hundred visitors will be selected from each country, but later it will extend to thousands.

The bond scheme is applicable to only visitors above the age of 18 for six-month visas, those entering the UK for a few days or weeks will not be affected. Visitors from the rest of the European Union (EU) will be exempt, because they do not require visas.

May stated, “In the long run we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services.

“The pilot will apply to visitor visas, but if the scheme is successful we’d like to be able to apply it on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country.”

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