All Noble Lords,MP's including Home secretary and Prime minister
United Kingdom

We are writing this to invite your kind attention to an issue that affects all the ethnic minorities legally residing within the United Kingdom.It is for this very reason that I request your full attention when the proposed bill on Immigration and Citizenship is laid on the table before Parliament. The draft bill is going to be introduced in the parliament and we hope you can intervene in this matter while it comes for parliamentary debate.

On July 14 Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced sweeping changes in immigration rules on contrary to her own promise published in guardian newspaper (read the news in http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/20/immigrationpolicy.immigration).We do not have any objection to the proposal to tighten the boarder and limit immigration. However, there is one proposal that deeply disturbs the skilled migrants in this country, and we would like to bring this up to your attention.

According to the document announced by home secretary - THE PATHS TO CITIZENSHIP- the minimum period of permanent residency has been changed to 8 to 10 years from the current 5 years. If an immigrant does volunteer work, then he/she can apply for settlement after 8 years and if not he needs 10 years. We feel that this is not a fair deal to immigrants who are already here in this country with a belief that they could earn permanent residency after 5 years. The policy change will deeply unsettle immigrants who are expecting to get permanent residence rights shortly. Migrants like myself made innumerable sacrifices believing various promises made by the UK Government globally that once in UK they would be entitled to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and citizenship in certain period of time and there by migrants gave up their established careers, sold properties, winded up all investments and uprooted their families to make UK their main home only to be unfairly questioned on their commitment to Britain and integration by asking them to spend more time and undergo various tests for settlement and citizenship.Most of these migrants who have come from outside Europe work in the Health sector like NHS hospitals and various Nursing and Residential homes throughout UK.

We find that the government has not properly considered the fact that almost all of the immigrants are working hard, paying tax and not at all taking any benefits from the system. However, the British media are only interested in highlighting the issues of illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, the government too, it seems, is following their example. Therefore we feel isolated and discriminated against. We are not illegal immigrants, we working hard for United Kingdom, does overtime jobs and ultimately pay high taxes for the government.

In this circumstance, we request you to kindly raise the following amendments when this bill is brought up for debate in parliament. We are attaching herewith the copy of the proposed changes, highlighting sections of the bill that may badly affect us.

1. As per the current system any foreign citizen who has lived in the country for 5 years with valid work permit can apply for settlement. Then, one year later, they are eligible to apply for citizenship. But according to the new proposals, if anyone wishes to apply for permanent settlement he/she needs a period of 8 to 10 years’ work experience in this country, though the citizenship period is still not changing. We request you to limit the proposed changes only in the case of new immigrants. Would you please propose an amendment that allows those already in the country keep their entitlement to settle as per the existing rules?

2. As per the changes proposed, if any one does not wish to take citizenship after the probationary citizenship, he must stay on for a minimum three more years, and in many cases five more years (effectively making it a total of 10 years), for the settlement visa. On the other hand people who wish to take citizenship can get it straight after the probationary period. Due to issues like restrictions in home country or immigrants’ strong ties with it, sometimes one family member takes British citizenship and the other may keep the born country citizenship. In situations like this, we feel that the above stipulation is discriminatory and therefore we request you to award either citizenship or settlement straight after the probationary period.

3. According to the proposal each candidate needs to qualify individually, rather than as a family. As per the strict immigration rules, the dependent can join the family only after the work permit holder settles in the UK. If the new rules are implemented the huge cost of applying for the PR will double as the application process will have to be done twice over. Many of the dependents may not be able to manage English well, though the main immigrant can easily do it. Under the new proposals a person may get settlement and but his/her dependent may not qualify for it. We are afraid this will be an extremely difficult and painful prospect for people looking forward to stable family life. Therefore we request you to propose an amendment to let the dependents apply with the main applicant, as is currently applicable.

4. According to the proposal, immigrants should do community work for speeding up their path to permanent residency/citizenship. Many of the immigrants are engaged in community work, thanks to their professions like medicine, nursing, social work and caring. We request you to kindly recommend to the government to exempt these professionals from community work. As we are working together for the community under our association’s banner, we would like to request to include this too as community work.

5.As per the proposed changes :"access to Higher Education will only be available to temporary residents and their dependants at the ‘overseas rate’ (NOT subject to the same fees as a British national) and provided they meet the entry requirements of the individual college or higher education institution.".Considering that the dependant children above 18 years of age are the future citizens of Britain and will be contributing to the country for another 40 years of their life, it is actually advantageous for Britain to continue with the rule of fees on par with British citizens for them. If the rule is changed they will be asked to pay the same fees as foreigh citizens who are non residents in UK . These fees will be 5 times higher,than the friends they studied with for 4 years or more already and will be a very discouraging as well as discriminatory factor. These kind of change in rules are likely to make them drop out of higher education which is a loss to UK since they will then need more skilled migrants and not let the skills develop within the people who are already on their path to permanent residency.

6. According to the proposal, the government is planning to collect extra annual fees from immigrants. We strongly believe it is discrimination as all immigrants pay full tax and NI, but never accept any kind of benefits. We also pay a huge amount for every visa processing steps. For example we are already paying around 1000 pounds for settlement visa. Therefore we request you to kindly recommend scrapping this plan while you implement the changes.

7.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 required mortgages. Needless to say all their plans have been jeopardised and it led to an insecure and unpredictable future. While the Government is busy planning for further changes in the permanent settlement and citizenship criteria later this year which is likely to further sabotage lives of existing migrants like myself.

8.The current draft legislation for Citizenship changes uses ambiguous terms such as “newcomers” which provides no indication whether the proposed law will only apply to those not yet admitted into the UK, or whether it will apply retroactively or retrospectively to persons resident in the UK and who would be applying for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship. Furthermore, the omission to provide vital definitions of terminology used in the draft bill undermines public comprehension and creates suspicion more so keeping in mind the recent retrospective changes of 2006. The initial conditions for the aforementioned categories were that after a period of four years they would be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and citizenship after five years. It appears that unless migrants that are resident in the UK are exempted from any new conditions posed by any new legislation and rules, persons who are about to acquire or have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain may be forced to stay on this category for a period of up to six years before being eligible for citizenship. This would mean that a person like me who has been resident in the United Kingdom and has made innumerable sacrifices to settle here and is working hard, and paying taxes and have been looking forward for my timely permanent residency and thereby citizenship would be forced to spend more time and face more hardships to get permanent residency and citizenship.

9. We would also like to highlight is that due to the uncertainty over changes in immigration rules, many skilled workers, especially nurses, are moving from the UK to countries like the US and Australia. Please note that all these nurses are trained in NHS and they are leaving all on a sudden because of complications in the home office rules. Again, owing to the mandatory higher English language qualification only fewer nurses are coming into the country. As many qualified nurses leave, NHS and nursing homes will face an acute shortage of nurses and it will heavily affect the health service. Unfortunately it seems the UK government is not at all aware of the seriousness of this issue.

We hope your kind office will consider these facts and point out this in the parliament when the draft bill appears for debate. Any helps on this front will be highly appreciated.It is important for my family and many other people in similar situation that you pursue this matter further in the Parliament and with respective government departments and committees and convey your disagreement in applying such changes to existing migrants. I would also request you to get in touch with the Mr.Anish Mani (aneeshma@yahoo.com)who created this E-petiton to confirm your support and to further liaison with him for the cause of many affected people like myself.

Attn: (planned to submit the above petition to all M.P's and Noble Lords in UK)

We the undersigned, writing this to invite your kind attention to an issue that affects all the ethnic minorities living in the UK.

On July 14 Home secretary Jacqui Smith announced sweeping changes in immigration rules on contrary to her own promise published in guardian newspaper (read the news in http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/20/immigrationpolicy.immigration).

We described our concerns in detail in our petition.

We hope your kind office will consider these facts written in the above petition and point out this in the parliament when the draft bill appears for debate. Any helps on this front will be highly appreciated.

Thanking you

Anish Mani

The Concerns about changes to immigration rules petition to All Noble Lords,MP's including Home secretary and Prime minister was written by Anish Mani and is in the category Government at GoPetition.

Petition Tags

benefits immigration laws