London: The government plans to introduce new rules to curb immigrants' rights to settle down permanently in the UK, a move likely to adversely impact thousands of Indians seeking to live in the country.
The Conservative Party-led coalition government will scrap a rule that gives foreign workers the right to live permanently in Britain after working here for five years and will also restrict the rights of their family members to join them, reports said.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is drawing up plans for a new "hurdle" for immigrants that would prevent most of them gaining the right to remain here indefinitely.
"Mrs Theresa May and Damian Green, the immigration minister, want to break the link between working and settling in Britain," the report quoted a government source as saying.
"It has become almost automatic for people who keep their noses clean and don't get a criminal record. They are not against people coming here to work, but that shouldn't automatically mean they get to stay in Britain forever," the source said.
Once someone is granted indefinite leave to remain, they can apply for a British passport.
The number of immigrants taking advantage of this rules has spiralled in the past 14 years, the report said.
The Home Office is also to look at restricting the right of immigrants' spouses to a British passport if they stay here long enough.
Under the plans, to be announced later this year, foreigners will still be able to gain a visa to work in Britain but will no longer be able to stay by virtue of remaining legally for five years.
People from outside the European Union who came to Britain as asylum seekers and have worked in the country for years, possibly illegally, are also to have their right to remain restricted.
About 51,000 people were given the right to settle in Britain in 1997, but the figure escalated to a record 241,192 last year.
More than half of those granted the right to stay in Britain in 2010 were from Asian countries such as Pakistan and India, and 27 percent were from African countries.
More than 7,000 Iraqis and 8,401 Iranians were given the right to settle.
Civil servants are drawing up criteria for a further test that would be applied before a permanent right to remain is granted.
It is expected to be based on immigrants' ability to support themselves and their families, qualifications and whether they are working in professions where there are shortages of trained Britons able to fulfil the role.
Those on high incomes, businessmen and millionaire investors would be exempt because the government believes they would create jobs.
EU nationals who have a right to live in the UK would not be affected.
In August, net migration rose by 21 percent to 239,000, partly owing to the number of EU migrants coming to Britain and to a fall in the number of people leaving the country to live abroad.
First Published: Sunday, October 2, 2011, 18:58