An uproar has ensued in the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, and Nigeria after the British government said it was considering a scheme to make visitors pay a £3000 ($4,625) bond upon entering the UK on a tourist visa—which will be forfeit to the state if they overstay or otherwise breach the visa rules.
The plan is to deter what have been labeled as “high risk” Asian and African “short-term visitors aged 18 and over from overstaying in Britain.”
The Home Office wants to pilot the scheme for six-month visitor visas and will extend it to student and work visas if it proves successful. Those who overstay their visa and fail to return home will forfeit the money.
Indians all over Britain have protested against the policy and called it “unfair” and “discriminatory.”
The Confederation of the Indian Industry issued a statement on Monday evening that said, “The changes are not only discriminatory; they are also against the ‘special relationship’ publicised by the UK government.”
In Nigeria, senior politicians described the scheme as discriminatory and unacceptable. “It is targeted at the nonwhite Commonwealth,” said Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, chair of a Nigerian parliamentary foreign affairs committee.
All of the named nations have also indicated that they would consider reciprocal action against British visitors.
A 2009 study by the London School of Economics said there around 863,000 illegal immigrants, or overstayers, in the UK as of December 2007. This included failed asylum seekers and tourist visa overstayers. Some have been in the UK long enough to have had children there, the report continued.
This figure is likely to have been an underestimate, and by 2013, five years later, is also likely to have increased substantially.
The proposal has already run into difficulty from the Conservative Party’s junior coalition partners, the far leftist Liberal Democratic Party. That group’s leader, Nick Clegg, who is also Britain’s deputy Prime Minister, has refused to agree to the scheme and the plan has not yet been made into law, despite the announcement over the past weekend.