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Indian immigrants in UK face discrimination: HSMP

Published on: Tuesday, 29th September 2009 01:08 AM     By      Administrator

Immigrants in Britain are facing "discriminatory and unethical" treatment, claimed an NRI forum, which accused authorities here of forcing migrants to pay excessive fees for Home Office services.

"Immigrants in the UK demand fair treatment from the Home Office. Since 2006, Immigrants in the UK have been forced to pay for the overall immigration services in the form of dual taxation rather than just paying for their application processing fee alone," claimed the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme Forum (HSMP Forum), which represents immigrants in the UK, particularly those from the Indian subcontinent.

It alleged that immigrants in Britain are forced to pay excessive fees for Home Office Services. The Home Office is presently conducting a charging consultation to further increase the existing "unwarranted high fees", it said.

Amit Kapadia, Executive Director of the HSMP Forum and Association of Immigrants, expressed concern "over this unfair treatment". "We are very concerned over this unfair treatment. It is discriminatory and unethical," Kapadia said.

The Home Office is presently conducting a charging consultation to further increase the existing "unwarranted high fees", it said in a statement.
In its submission to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) regarding the charging of consultation, HSMP pointed out that the fees charged for issuing entry clearance, visa extension and settlement have increased by more than 100 per cent since April 2007.

Kapadia said immigrants already contribute to the UK economy by paying their taxes and it is deplorable to expect them to pay more than their share of the burden by paying for government's or Home Office's other services. "It is a form of double taxation," Kapadia underlined.

The Executive Director of the HSMP Forum said the excess application fees charged to the immigrants and their families could amount from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of their monthly salaries, which adversely affect their finances. "It is unethical for a government agency to behave like a profit-making organisation especially with an appalling standard of service over long waiting times over the phone and delays in application consideration.

"It is ironic that the Home Office in its Charging Consultation document stated that the UK border Agency is providing world class services," he said.

The document 'Charging for immigration and visa applications - Impact assessment' suggests that the government's policy objective is to charge fees that recover about 30 per cent of UK Border Agency's overall costs.

"The key costs and benefits estimate given in the impact assessment suggests that the expected income to be raised from applicants' fees would be 48 million pounds by 2010/11 and 113 million pounds per year thereafter, while the actual processing costs are estimated to be 16 million pounds in 2010/11 and 38 million pounds per year thereafter". This clearly suggests a profit-centred approach, Kapadia said.

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