Britain talks tough on abuse of visa rules
Chandigarh, Aug 24: Britain would not allow students, migrants or immigration agents from Punjab to abuse its visa rules, said Minister for Immigration Damian Green Tuesday, stressing that there would be zero limit on unskilled migration.
"The government is committed to reducing migration to the UK and we are currently consulting on limiting economic migration. We have also decided to keep in place the zero limit on unskilled migration," Green said.
"But the UK continues to want to attract the brightest and the best - the investors and the entrepreneurs - the people that make our economies grow. There is no contradiction in wanting to reduce migration and wanting to encourage inward investment and talented migrants. We can do both," Green told reporters here.
He was speaking after meeting Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and senior Punjab police officials here Tuesday.
"I have had the opportunity today to meet the governor of Punjab, the chief minister and the director general of police and extend my gratitude for the excellent co-operation the UK enjoys from Punjab in addressing illegal migration and returning irregular migrants from the UK," he said.
"I met members of Punjab police and saw excellent examples of the way in which the police have been helping the UK Border Agency in the fight against unscrupulous agents and attempts to use fraudulent means to get UK visas," he said.
"I am also here in India to explain the changes to the UK’s immigration system and the reasons for them," Green said.
"Many highly skilled people from Punjab and other parts of India have been coming to the UK for years. Britain has benefited from this migration from India and elsewhere and will continue to do so. But this migration must be controlled in order to maximise the benefits - both for the UK and those who are coming to work and live," the British minister said.
Green said that the British government was going very strict with visa rules.
"Many people from Punjab visit their families or come to the UK as tourists every year. I welcome this and will be looking at how we can make our visa processes more effectively support tourism to the UK. At the same time, I want to ensure that these routes are used properly and not to evade the UK’s immigration rules," he said.
"Likewise, we want the best students to come to Britain. I want them to study at high quality institutions and get the most from their education in Britain. I do not want to see a repeat of the suspension in Tier 4 (student visa) applications in north India earlier this year," he said.
"I am, therefore, evaluating the student visa provisions to ensure that they support those high quality students who genuinely want to study and prevent those who pretend to want to study in order to work. I want to ensure that we close the gap on abuse of the UK’s visa rules," Green said.
Thousands of migrants from Punjab have settled in Britain in the last 7-8 decades. The Doaba belt, the area between rivers Sutlej and Beas that comprises Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts, is known for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and migrants to other countries, especially Britain.
Every year, hundreds of cases are reported to police in which youth from Punjab are misled by immigration agents to seek illegal means to migrate to Britain.
"I am concerned about the activities of unscrupulous agents who were behind much of the abuse of the student visa rules we saw earlier this year. Such agents drive illegal migration and abuse of visa processes, and exploit migrants," he said.
"I want to make sure that genuine students who come to the UK get proper educational benefits from their study," he said.
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Britain seeks Punjab help to check illegal migration
Chandigarh, Aug 24: British Minister for Immigration Damian Green Tuesday urged the Punjab government to help the British High Commission in proper verification of people applying for visa to his country.
The British minister met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here Tuesday and urged him to direct Punjab police to ensure antecedents of visa applicants are checked properly so that illegal migration could be checked.
Green also sought the chief minister's personal intervention to nab unscrupulous travel agents who were aiding people in illegal migration to Britain.
"This (illegal migration) ultimately lands our innocent people, especially the unemployed youth, in deep trouble. Many of them want to go abroad in search of greener pastures after selling their property," Badal pointed out.
"Currently, we are deporting around 100 illegal immigrants to India every month. It is an example of enhanced cooperation between UK authorities and their Indian counterparts," Green said.
"Besides, around 200 illegal Indian immigrants are currently lodged in different jails of the UK. We have observed that from big countries, with huge population, we are getting more number of illegal immigrants," he said.
"We cannot say that we are getting maximum illegal immigrants from India as we also have huge numbers from China, Nigeria and Pakistan," the British minister said.
Thousands of migrants from Punjab have settled in Britain in the last 7-8 decades. The Doaba belt, the area between rivers Sutlej and Beas, comprising of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts, is known for non-resident Indians (NRIs) and migrants to other countries, especially Britain.