RELIEF FOR HSMP APPLICANTS AS UK PANEL UPHOLDS RIGHT TO FAMILY LIFE

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THERE’s some relief in sight for many Indian professionals who immigrated to the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) but now face deportation because of the new strict rules announced by the British government in November, 2006.

Recently, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in the UK has upheld the applicability of the right to family life in Britain — under the terms of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights — in favour of an Indian HSMP applicant who was denied permission to continue his stay under the new rules.

“The tribunal court ruling clearly indicates that the UK government is being unfair. The judge stated that the appellant has a strong legitimate expectation of further HSMP visa extension according to the rules he came under. There are many people who face deportation due to the broken promises of the British government and this judgement brings a ray of hope to them as they too would be able to look forward to make an appeal against their refusal,” says Amit Kapadia, director of the HSMP Forum, which has been formed in UK to deal with the issues arising out of the new stringent immigration rules.

The judgement, in favour of an Indian chemist who had entered the UK in December, 2005 having been granted entry clearance for 12 months as a HSMP applicant, referred to guidance notes from the UK Home Office from 2002 (when the scheme was first announced) till November, 2006. The guidelines clearly stated that even under revised rules, those who had already entered under HSMP would be allowed to stay and apply for settlement after four years qualifying residence. Contrary to this, the UK government had announced that under the new rules, even existing applicants in the UK under the HSMP would have to meet the requirements of the new points based scheme to continue after the first year’s stay.

The applicant, who worked for the government of Oman since 1992, gave up his employment, sold his house and used his resources to settle in the UK. When he applied for extension of stay on November 29, 2006, he could not meet the requirements of the new points-based scheme and was advised to seek leave to remain in UK under the work-permit scheme. This was refused to him as he did not hold a work permit.

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