Highly skilled immigration to Britain will increase: Vaz

October 5th, 2008 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) The number of highly skilled migrants going to Britain will increase, in contrast to public perception that the new immigration system will limit the numbers, an Indian-origin British parliamentarian said here Saturday.Keith Vaz, the Labour MP from Leicester East, is in India leading an inquiry committee on the working of the points-based immigration system that was introduced April 1.

Describing Britain’s immigration system as being superior to that of the US, Vaz said there was “no quota system” for entry into the British Isles.

“There is a wrong perception that the new system will cap the number of migrants, but that’s totally untrue. May be we need to publicise the system more,” said Vaz, who is also the chairman of the British parliament’s home affairs select committee, which initiated the inquiry in June.

India was the first country where Britain introduced the points-based system, which classifies migrants into five tiers based on their skill sets.

While tier I for highly skilled migrants has been started in February this year, the categories for skilled migrants (tier II) and temporary workers (tier V) will be introduced from November. The students category at tier IV will begin in the first half of 2009.

The third tier for low-skilled category has no schedule for introduction, yet.

He said the system needed to be open and fair so that the government “does not change the rules in the middle of the game”.

He referred to the British government’s action which led to rules of permanent residency for thousands of Indian doctors being changed suddenly. The doctors had successfully mounted a legal challenge against this move.

Vaz added that the immigration system should not encourage brain drain from India. “It is not right to take the best brains from here and keep them in Britain,” he added.

The Labour MP, whose parents were from Goa, said companies had told him if they were buying work permits for workers, then they would like them to return to India eventually to use their overseas experience here.

Referring to the demand for allowing immigration of chefs, Vaz said this profession was “an exception” under the immigration system.

“I am happy to see MAC (migration advisory committee) had included skilled chefs as an area of shortage and recommended them to be included in the system,” he said.

At the same time, Vaz also asked for greater access to the Indian market, especially for British lawyers to be allowed to practice in India.

The inquiry committee will submit its report in February. “We may present some of the concerns to the minister before that,” he said.

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