Government to abandon rule giving foreign workers right to live permanently in Britain
3rd October 2011: The government is working out a proposal to introduce new rules to curb immigrants’ rights to settle down permanently in the UK. The move is likely to unfavourably influence thousands of Indians and other foreigners seeking to live in the country.
The Conservative Party-led coalition government will abandon a rule that gives foreign workers the right to live permanently in Britain, after working here for five years. It will also limit the rights of their family members to join them.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is working out modalities for a new obstacle for immigrants that would prevent most of them from gaining the right to remain here indefinitely.
More than half of those permitted the right to stay in Britain in 2010 were from Asian countries such as Pakistan and India, and 27 per cent were from African countries. More than 7,000 Iraqis and 8,401 Iranians were given the right to settle.
Civil servants are drawing up measure for a further test that would be applied before a permanent right to remain is granted.
It is expected to be based on immigrants’ ability to support themselves and their families. It would also check qualifications and whether they are working in professions where there are shortages of trained Britons able to fulfill the role.
Those on high incomes, businessmen and millionaire investors would be excused because the government believed they would create jobs.
Already, it is evident that May and Damian Green, the immigration minister, want to break the link between working and settling in Britain.
The Home Office will also look at limiting the right of immigrants’ spouses to a British passport if they stay here long enough.
Under the plans, to be announced later this year, foreigners will still be able to gain a visa to work in Britain. But they will no longer be able to stay by advantage of remaining legally for five years.
People from outside the European Union, who came to Britain as asylum seekers and have worked in the country for years, possibly illegally, are also to have their right to remain restricted.
About 51,000 people were given the right to settle in Britain in 1997, but the figure rose up to a record 241,192 last year. EU nationals who have a right to live in the UK would not be affected.
In August, net migration rose by 21 per cent to 239,000, partly owing to the number of EU migrants coming to Britain and to a fall in the number of people leaving the country to live abroad.