UK - protest by migrants against HSMP changes
11 January 2007
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The demonstration will take place in parliament square, followed by a submittal of a memorandum to Tony Blair at 10, Downing Street. Also attending are Members of Parliament from Britain's main opposition party including Damien Green, Conservative spokesperson and shadow minister, and various Labour MP's.
The changes, introduced without warning on 07 November, have affected up to an estimated 49,000 migrants, according to organizers. Migrants already in the UK under HSMP visas must meet the new requirements of the updated points-based system to qualify for extensions. The new criteria include changes in earnings requirements, age and academic qualifications. As a result, many people working in the UK under the program may not be able to stay when it comes time to apply for HSMP extensions.
Another change that took place last year which is affecting many HSMP holders was an increase in the number of years - from four to five - of residency required before becoming eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
"Everyone agrees that Britain benefits from highly-skilled migrants. The government's decision to change the rules so that people who are already here and want to stay are now disqualified is both unfair and wrong-headed," said Green.
"It is unfair because the people involved have made a commitment to this country which is being flung back in their faces. It is wrong-headed because it sends a signal to highly skilled people around the world that Britain is an unreliable place to work.
"Conservatives want an immigration policy which is tough and thoughtful. The current government is talking tough but acting stupidly. It has failed to control our borders, so it is lashing out at precisely the people who benefit our economy. This is another in the growing list of disasters from John Reid's Home Office."
The main issue concerning demonstrators is that migrants already in the UK under the program must re-qualify under a points-based system. They would rather re-qualify based on economic activity alone. In some cases, new applicants for the HSMP program may find it easier to enter the UK under the new changes.
So far, lobbying and petitioning by migrants have not led to any reversal of the HSMP changes.
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