Government plans to force visitors from “high risk” countries to pay a £3,000 security bond to enter the UK have been scrapped, it is understood.
Home Secretary Theresa May’s scheme was due to be piloted from this month as a way of deterring temporary visitors from staying on after their visas expire.
It had been suggested that visitors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria would be required to pay the deposit for a six-month visa, but it is understood the scheme has now been scrapped.
A Government spokesman told The Sunday Times: “The Government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying the visa. We have decided not to proceed.”
Earlier this year, the scheme was condemned as “highly discriminatory” by Indian business leaders while Nick Clegg indicated he would block the plans if they were applied in an “indiscriminate way”.
Mr Clegg told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “Of course in a coalition I can stop things,” adding: “I am absolutely not interested in a bond which becomes an indiscriminate way of clobbering people who want to come to this country, and in many respects bring great prosperity and benefits to this country, of course not.”
The scheme was part of the Government’s drive to cut net migration into the UK to the “tens of thousands” by the time of the next general election in 2015.
However, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) denounced the plan as “highly discriminatory and very unfortunate”, warning that it could delay agreement on an EU-India trade deal.
“The suggested changes are not only discriminatory they are also against the ‘special relationship’ publicised by the UK government. We share UK’s concern on illegal immigration but surely there are other more effective and non-discriminatory ways to put a check on it,” it said in a statement.
The CII’s complaints were echoed by the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, Labour MP Keith Vaz, who described the scheme as “unfair and discriminatory”. (Yorkshire Post)