Memorandum submitted by HSMP Forum
"HSMP Forum" is a "not for profit"
organisation. It was formed after the 2006 decision by Government
to apply new qualifying criteria for Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
(HSMP) for permanent residency (ILR) and for visa extensions of
existing resident Highly Skilled Migrants. "HSMP Forum"
has been lobbying the Government and courts by challenging unfair
policies, so to allow existing legal Skilled Migrants to settle
in UK. The organisation's aim is to support and assist migrants
under the world-renowned British principles of fair-play, equality
and justice and believes in challenging any unfair policies which
undermines migrants' interests.
We have few serious concerns about this bill
which will unfairly affect a large number of migrants. Being a
migrant support organisation we directly receive complaints/concerns
from our members as well as other migrants and therefore believe
that our submission might give the committee a clear idea on how
the bill would affect migrants under some categories.
PART 3 -RETROSPECTIVE
We believe the journey to settlement and citizenship
starts when migrants enters Great Britain under any government
approved scheme and hence changing the rules applicable to gain
permanent residency / citizenship for such migrants is unfair
and undermines the basic notion of fair play and justice.
The new citizenship rules should not be applied
to the existing migrants who came under a different set of rules
and planned their lives as per the rules in place when they decided
to come to the U.K.
In the recent past in April 2006 the Government
made changes to the indefinite leave to remain qualifying criteria
from 4 to 5 years. This in itself caused hardships for migrants
when it was applied retrospectively to existing migrants. In our
recent judicial review judgment dated 8th April 2008
the high court ruled that application of such retrospective changes
The past changes in qualifying criteria for
indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in 2006 from 4 to 5 years has
caused various forms of hardships for migrants and their families.
Some of the hardships caused include Migrants' children not being
able to attend universities due to exorbitant international student
fees resulting in some to take gap year, some to abandon their
studies while some to change their career plans. Professionals
like Doctors, Accountants and others who intended to do advance
courses are unable to do so.
In addition to the travel restrictions to be
followed in order to abide by the rules to obtain ILR, many migrants
have been facing difficulties in getting permanent employment
and senior level positions due to employers' reservations in recruiting
those with limited leave to remain. A year more involves a year
more of employment limitations and lost opportunities. Migrants
are unable to obtain mortgages to buy a house due to their limited
visas as Banks and financial institutions hesitate to issue the
required mortgages. Needless to say all their plans have been
jeopardised and it has led to an insecure and unpredictable future.
Any further delay in permanent residency would cause similar or
further problems to existing migrants.
The term temporary residence / permission (or
probationary citizenship) will further complicate employment for
migrants. Migrants already encounter very many issues when applying
for job opportunities wherein employers tend to refuse job offers
to migrants with limited leave to remain. The term will further
create obstacles among migrants, wherein employers will tend to
refuse candidature for the jobs on the basis that the migrant
in Great Britain is on a temporary basis and would not want to
make investments in the migrants training nor will be interested
to consider the migrant for managerial or senior level roles.
This will hamper the migrant's employability prospects and growth.
Hence, make them subject to exploitation and would create inequalities
in the work place.
Any immigration law should take into account
the ground realities. Once people have managed to satisfy the
required thresholds and have made a legal entry in the country,
they should be treated on a level playing field.
Existing highly skilled migrants have already
encountered various problems due to the retrospective nature of
rule changes. In the past, the government back-tracked from the
promises they made to migrants to entice them to come to the U.K.
Our recent judicial review judgment of April 2008 on HSMP changes
clearly emphasized on the unfairness of retrospective nature of
rules changes which took place in 2006. The judgment also criticized
the government for abusing its powers.
PART 3, CLAUSE
34 -VOLUNTARY WORK
We believe expectation from migrants to undergo
voluntary work to speed up the process of being permanent residents
will lead to exploitation of migrants by organizations providing
this voluntary work. It would discriminate ethnic minority in
obtaining the permanent residency earlier comparatively their
Migrants will feel being forced to do voluntary
work and hence will not contribute whole heartedly. It also undermines
the true essence of philanthropic aim of the voluntary work. It
would make voluntary work look like a barter system and would
reflect it rather in a commercial sense.
Certain voluntary groups might treat migrants
as slave labourers and would exploit migrants and demean them
since the migrant would be dependent on the recommendation letter
from the voluntary organization to obtain his citizenship. It
is also wrong to use the voluntary work as a means to integration
and would be considered as an insult by certain categories of
migrants. Highly skilled migrants have already shown commitment
and integrity by making sacrifices, when they decided to come
to Great Britain they gave up their well established careers back
home, sold properties, winded up investments and uprooted families.
Migrants like teachers, doctors, engineers have already been making
enormous contribution in Britain.
How much the migrants are integrated in the
society may depend on the route through which they have entered
the UK. The measures put in place to facilitate their integration
should probably depend on it too.
Highly qualified professionals will consider
voluntary or community work as a sort of humiliation since it
is usually meant for offenders to reduce their sentence.
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