Highly Skilled Migrants, a group representing doctors, engineers and IT professionals and others, many of whom are on tier 2 visas, descended on Downing Street earlier this year to protest what they describe as ‘discriminatory, inhumane and hostile Home Office policies.’ The group has raised more than £25,000 to challenge the Home Office in the courts over UK visa laws.
Sanwar Ali workpermit.com comment:
The Home Office can take a very aggressive stance when enforcing UK visa laws. After spending thousands of pounds in UK visa fees you can end up having your visa refused for reasons that are unjust and very unfair. As we have said before the Home Office can revoke tier 2 sponsorship licences any time they want. The tier 2 sponsorship licence requirements are so long and complex that it will always be possible to find something that a tier 2 visa employer has apparently done wrong.
The group claims to represent more than 600 doctors, engineers, IT professionals, teachers and their families in Britain. Many of these migrants would have come under the tier 2 visa scheme to work for employers with a tier 2 sponsorship licence. Ahead of the Downing Street demonstration, Aditi Bhardwaj – one of the protest organisers, said: “Numerous members of our group are living in the worst of conditions thanks to the Home Office’s reckless, inhumane and unlawful policies.”
“Most of them are fighting their cases in the courts. They have young children, and with no right to work, they are living a miserable life. They are fighting a legal as well as a social battle, fighting for their rights,” Bhardwaj added.
Protest focused on indefinite leave to remain in the UK
It’s understood that the protest, which took place in January, was in response to tougher UK immigration measures targeting people applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK after entering the country on a tier 1 general visa – introduced to attract skilled migrants. The tier 1 general visa was scrapped in 2010 by then Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Bhardwaj argued that those people being targeted by stricter UK immigration rules have lived in Britain for more than a decade, working in distinguished professions, many of which have chronic skills shortages. He said: “They have dedicated their professional lives contributing to the growth of Great Britain, contributing over £25bn towards its economy.”
Mr Bhardwaj added that the government is purposely targeting immigrants who have made the UK their home, purchased properties and invested in businesses, adding that the people that the Highly Skilled Migrants group represents are ‘all law-abiding citizens, with none having been convicted of any criminal offence.’
Home Office increasingly refusing indefinite leave to remain in the UK
According to Bhardwaj, most members of the group lack any social, economic or family ties to their country of origin. Meanwhile, many have school-aged children born in Britain who have never visited their foreign parent’s country of origin and for whom English is their first language. Bhardwaj claims that the future of these children is being tarnished by the Home Office.
Protesters wanted to raise awareness of an increase in the number of people being refused indefinite leave to remain in the UK. The Highly Skilled Immigrants group has accused the Home Office of abusing a section of the Immigration Act that targets criminals deemed to be a threat to national security.
Bhardwaj claims that: “Skilled migrants with excellent educational and professional skills are being refused ILR on the grounds of ‘tax error rectification’ because of small errors they have made in their tax returns in the past, which they have long ago rectified and paid off.
“Tax error rectification is not illegal or unlawful anywhere in the world, and not even in the UK Financial Act 2007,” Bhardwaj added.
However, in accordance with UK immigration laws, the Home Office can refuse a visa applicant on the grounds that their ‘character or conduct’ is deemed ‘undesirable’ to be allowed to live in the UK.
Senior doctors blocked from taking jobs in the UK
The protest came in the wake of foreign doctors, who had been hired for key job roles in hospitals up and down the country, finding themselves refused entry into the UK because their NHS salaries were below the threshold required to obtain a tier 2 restricted certificate of sponsorship and meet Tier 2 visa requirements.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We aim to resolve all UK visa applications as quickly as possible and meet service standards for straightforward applications. 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 spokesperson added.
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