UK immigration abandons plan for visa security bonds

The UK's Home Office has announced that it will not require visa applicants from six 'high risk countries' to pay security bonds when they apply for visas. A spokesman said ''The Government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying their visa. We have decided not to proceed.'

In June 2013, the UK's Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the UK would require some applicants for some visas from six countries to pay security bonds of up to £3,000 when applying for a visa. The bond would only be repaid after the visa holder had left the UK. Mrs May announced that the pilot scheme would be held in November 2013 and would affect applicants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.

The details of the scheme were never revealed so it was not clear whether the bonds would be paid only by applicants for six month visitor visas or whether applicants for Tier 2 skilled worker visas, Tier 4 student visas and other temporary visas would be required to pay the bonds as well.

Outrage in India and Nigeria

The announcement of the scheme caused outrage in India and Nigeria. The British High Commissioner in Nigeria was summoned to the office of the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister on 25th June. The Minister expressed the 'strong displeasure of the government and people of Nigeria'.

The Indian trade minister Anand Sharma who was in the UK at the time of Mrs May's announcement and asked for further clarification from the UK's Business Secretary Vince Cable.

UK newspaper The Daily Mail reports that the UK government decided not to go ahead with the pilot after the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, vetoed the scheme. If this is the case, it would be quite surprising as Mr Clegg made a speech in March 2013 in which he called for the introduction of 'well targeted' security bonds.

Clegg first to announce security bond scheme

Mr Clegg said 'in certain cases, when a visa applicant is coming from a high risk country…UKBA would be able to request a deposit – a kind of cash guarantee. Once the visitor leaves Britain, the bond will be repaid'. This seems to be very similar to the pilot scheme announced by Mrs May.

But Mr Clegg soon distanced himself from the security bond scheme and told BBC interviewer Andrew Marr on 15th September 2013 'I am absolutely not interested in a bond which becomes an indiscriminate way of clobbering people who want to come to this country'.

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