Indian migrants win HSMP case against British government

April 8th, 2008 - 6:13 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, April 8 (IANS) Tens of thousands of mostly-Indian immigrants Tuesday won the right to live and work in Britain after a British court ruled that retrospective changes made to their visas were illegal. The landmark ruling by Justice Sir George Newman followed a legal challenge mounted by the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) Forum, a pressure group consisting mostly of Indian migrants.

In his judgment, Newman said the terms of the original scheme “should be honoured” and that there was no good reason why those already on the scheme should not enjoy the benefits of it as originally offered to them.

“Good administration and straightforward dealing with the public require it. Not to restrain the impact of the changes would, in my judgment, give rise to conspicuous unfairness and an abuse of power,” he added.

A majority of some 49,000 HSMP visa holders - most of them Indian - and their families faced the prospect of having to uproot their homes in Britain and find jobs in other countries after the British government made abrupt and retrospective changes to the original visa regime.

Existing HSMP visa holders would have had to re-qualify under a new points based system, which makes it mandatory for applicants to have earned at least 40,000 pounds in the previous year and awards more points to younger applicants - conditions that the HSMP Forum described as “unfair”.

“The immigration department was obsessed with defending their decision and were not open to any reasoning. We had no other recourse but to approach the judiciary and we are glad that our trust in the democratic system has finally been restored,” said Forum executive director Amit Kapadia.

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