Would-be immigrants to Britain need hefty bank balances

November 5th, 2008 - 12:42 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 5 (IANS) British Home Office guidelines for the new points-based immigration system to be introduced from Nov 27 say that prospective immigrants will have to show hefty bank balances up to three months before even applying for their visas. The funds in their banks should be such as to afford expenses for themselves and their families for their first month in Britain. Also, the funds should be in banks for a minimum of three months before applying for visas.

The guidance notes published Tuesday show each highly skilled migrant must show that they have in their bank account for at least three months the local equivalent of 2,800 pounds ($4,500) for themselves and 1,600 pounds for each family member or 7,600 pounds for a typical family of four.

The Guardian quoted a Home Office spokesman as saying that the 2,800 pounds represented a cash reserve for highly skilled migrants to support themselves for just over three months as they were not entitled to public funds.

The rules also require overseas students who want to come to Britain to study for 12 months or more to show they have 9,600 pounds for themselves - at the rate of 800 pounds a month as recommended by the British Council - and 535 pounds for each dependent. This is in addition to the funds required to pay their full fees.

In the case of skilled workers in tier two of the points-based system, which replaces work permits, they would also have to demonstrate that they have 800 pounds for themselves and 533 pounds for each of their dependants.

However, their British employers can also undertake to bear first month expenses of the skilled workers alone, and not their dependents. Which means, even in this case, that the skilled workers will have to show funds to meet the expenses of their dependents.

Immigration lawyers said the guidance notes may discriminate against workers and students from developing countries with weak pound exchange rates.

Sophie Barrett-Brown, the chair of the immigration law practitioners’ association, said this requirement would put barriers in the way of new migrants.

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