UK business opposes new immigration curbs

India is among three countries from where the most number of overseas domestic workers come to Britain.

London: Business leaders in Britain have
cautioned the government that its latest plans to curb
immigration by preventing the permanent settlement of Indian
and non-EU professionals will adversely affect the country`s
economic recovery.

"Turfing out valuable migrant workers who are turned
down for settlement would be incredibly disruptive to
companies of all sizes, and to the UK`s economic recovery,"
said Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce.

He said the immigration system had to protect the
economy as well as the borders.

Many British companies employ foreign professionals
when the required skills and experience are not available
within the UK or EU. Not allowing them to settle in the UK
will not only affect their lives but also the functioning and
expansion plans of employers.

Business leaders have warned that government plans to
create a temporary workforce of overseas skilled migrants will
be "incredibly disruptive" to Britain`s economic recovery.

Announcing the new proposals yesterday, Immigration
Minister Damian Green said the David Cameron government
wants the brightest and best workers to come to the UK, "make
a strong contribution to our economy while they are here, and
then return home."

Marshall said these proposals could deter some skilled
workers from coming to the UK in the first place.
"The criteria for which migrants do get settlement
rights must reflect business needs and the economy, as well as
political considerations," he said.

Under current rules, migrants who work in Britain for
five years are allowed to settle here permanently.
The proposals seek to break this link between working
and automatic permanent settlement, except for a limited
number of high worth individuals.

Habib Rahman, of the Joint Council for the Welfare
of Immigrants, warned the new proposals would create a "guest
workers" scheme in Britain.

"The guest workers will have a very restricted right
to settle in the UK and will have fewer rights when they are
here," he said.

"It will open them up to exploitation and lead to a
two-tier workforce in Britain. The restrictions on legitimate
avenues to settle is bound to lead to increasing irregularity
and overstaying," Rahman cautioned.

However, Andrew Green of MigrationWatch, said the plan
would provide an incentive for employers to train British
workers rather than take skilled foreign workers "off the
shelf".

The proposals, announced yesterday in a public
consultation exercise, will affect Indian skilled workers as
well as domestic workers such as cooks and maids who travel to
Britain with their employers.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she will "break that
link and return to a position where Britain will continue to
attract the brightest and best workers, who will make a strong
contribution to our economy and society during their stay,
then return home."

"A small number of exceptional migrants will be able
to stay permanently but for the majority, coming here to work
will not lead automatically to settlement in the UK," May
underlined.

Campaign groups said that if foreign professionals
were not allowed to settle here permanently, they would rather
migrate to countries such as Canada and Australia.

Amit Kapadia of the Highly Skilled Migrants Forum
(HSMF) told a news agency that it will launch a protest against the
plans.

India is among three countries mentioned in the
consultation document from where the most number of overseas
domestic workers come to Britain; the other two are the
Philippines and Indonesia.

The tighter rules will also affect diplomats from
India and other non-EU countries posted here who bring along
their domestic help.

Immigration Minister Green said "settlement has become
almost automatic for those who choose to stay."

"This needs to change. The immigration system has got
to be made to work properly," he said.

"We want the brightest and best workers to come to the
UK, make a strong contribution to our economy while they are
here, and then return home," the minister underlined.

The consultation proposes that people earning over
150,000 pounds or doing jobs that have a specific economic or
social value to the UK be allowed to stay in the country
permanently.

Plans include a new category to allow most
exceptionally talented skilled workers to apply to stay after
a three-year period in the UK.

PTI

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