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Bond with UK: It won’t allow visitors beyond three months

London, December 17
As part of efforts to check illegal immigration, Britain on Tuesday will announce steps to tighten its visa regime that will include making families pay a hefty bond to ensure their foreign visitors leave, a step that is expected to draw flak from South Asians who traditionally support the ruling Labour.

The length of time for tourist visas is also to be halved from six to three months.

But the plan to make families who sponsor relatives coming from overseas pay a cash bond which could be more than 1,000 pounds is likely to provoke fierce criticism from ethnic communities, especially from Indian subcontinent.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne plans to visit India in February to explain the proposal and elicit support.

In 2000, the government suggested that sponsors should pay 3,000 pounds but the idea was abandoned after the commission for Racial Equality said it was discriminatory.

The latest move may affect Labour support among ethnic minority voters and threaten the party's hold of some marginal seats with large numbers of voters from the Indian sub-continent.

A consultation document to be published tomorrow will outline proposals for sponsored family visits which include suggesting that they should be restricted only to British citizens or those who have full residency rights in Britain.

The proposal will suggest scaling back the right of appeal to an immigration officer's refusal to offer a visa.

In addition, the Home Office will announce proposals to create a special visa for businessmen and visas for one-off events including the 2012 Olympics.

Two years ago, the Home Office suggested that low-skilled migrants from outside the EU should put up a cash bond to ensure that they left the country when their visas expired. That proposal, too, was dropped.

The new measured come after a series of poor opinion polls for the Government, the disclosure that thousands of failed asylum-seekers have been helped to set up businesses back home in a 36 million pounds taxpayer-funded scheme and that 11,000 immigrants have been found working illegally in the private security industry.

The failed asylum-seekers have been helped to leave the country, with a free flight plus 1,000 pounds cash and further assistance to help them to resettle in their homelands. — PTI

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