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Byrne to discuss changes to UK immigration system

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UK Immigration Minister Liam Byrne has started a national and international consultation on changes to the United Kingdom's immigration system, specifically visitor visas. Byrne will visit India and hold community meetings in London and across the UK to discuss issues raised in a recently released Visitors Consultation Paper.

The paper, which will accept feedback until 10 March 2008, asks questions such as whether the current maximum leave for tourist visas should be reduced from 6 months to 3 months, whether specific family visitor visas should be introduced, and whether a specific visa category for business and special visitors should be created, among others.

Sponsorship for family visas is also outlined in the paper, with the possibility of bonds being posted to assure that visitors comply with the terms of their visa.

"I'm clear our visit visa system is out of date. For many legitimate visitors - especially those who want to see loved-ones, it's too hard to get back together," Byrne said. "Already people are flagging key issues - like reserving bonds for borderline cases only and keeping the time limit for family visas at six months."

In the coming months, the UK will be introducing vast changes to its immigration system. In addition to possible visitor visa changes, a new Australian style points based system will be implemented for those wishing to come to the UK to work, study, or train.

The new system will be broken into five tiers, which encompasses highly skilled migrants to students.