London should remain a diverse world city: Mayor
May 2, 2007 - 8:35:04 AM

London, May 2 - In a major boost to the campaign to protest changes to immigration rules that have adversely affected highly skilled migrants from India and other non-European union countries, London mayor Ken Livingstone has come out in their support and has urged the government to reverse the changes.

The campaign to protest the interests of people who entered Britain under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme - has led to several demonstrations, petitions, meetings with ministers and litigation.

However, organisers of the campaign are awaiting a review of the rules changes promised by immigration minister Liam Bryne at a meeting in end-March. Several Labour and Conservative MPs have supported the campaign, the latest being Livingstone, who believes that the rules changes may adversely affect London's booming economy.

Livingstone, a senior Labour leader and a popular mayor of London, said in a message to the campaign organisers: 'As Mayor of London, I am clear that London's future prosperity depends on it remaining a diverse world city open to people and influences from across the globe. Whilst this is true of people arriving through all immigration routes, the gains are especially obvious where they bring advanced skills.

'Both London and the UK need to build up high-quality human capital, a key driver of future productivity growth. The Highly Skilled Migrants Programme - has a clear part to play in achieving this goal. London's economy stands to gain massively from the high-skilled staff it attracts.

'But migrants can make their full contribution only if policy enables them to develop projects, build careers and shape their personal life on a stable and secure basis.

'So I have heard with deep concern about the impact of HSMP rule changes last November on people who arrived under the previous HSMP regime, and now find themselves required to seek extension of their permission to remain under a new set of criteria.

'To change rules retrospectively in this way, for people who have made a major commitment to a productive role in the UK, is manifestly unjust. It also threatens real damage to the economy of London and the UK - not only by disrupting people's work, even forcing them to leave, but also by undermining our relationship with dynamic markets around the world.

'I urge the Government to allow people admitted under the HSMP before 7 November 2006 to apply for permanent settlement after four years, according to the rules in force - when they got HSMP approval'.

Amit Kapadia, coordinator of campaign, said: 'On an average each Indian HSMP holder brought Rs. 25 lakhs - investment in UK. But now the UK government has decided to get rid of these high end investors by expelling them.

'The UK government has been breaking its promises by imposing retrospective changes on lakhs of Indian migrants. The present trend in Britain raises serious questions on whether there is any guarantee that the UK government would stick to its commitments and would fairly treat the ever growing Indian Investments and investors in UK without any future incorporation of retrospective legislations to disadvantage them.'

Kapadia cited several official figures to highlight the situation in which India has emerged as a major investor in Britain, but its highly skilled people had been adversely affected by policies of the British government.

Meanwhile, Damian Green, Conservative party's spokesman on immigration issues, said: 'There is mounting evidence of real hardship caused by the government's vindictive decision to make the new qualifications for Highly Skilled Migrants retrospective on those who are already here. This will damage Britain's economy, and its reputation around the world. The government should reverse this decision.'

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