Indian nurses working at Altnagelvin, Londonderry may be removed from the UK. The nurses have been filling desperately needed posts in Altnagelvin at the invitation of the NHS but mooted changes to immigration laws may leave them in limbo when their working visas expire. With them 100 Indian families may have to leave the city.
The families were initially told they could apply for permanent residency before their work permits expired, after four years. The law has subsequently been changed to five years and the new Immigration and Citizenship Bill proposes that figure be changed to eight years.
Several members of Londonderry’s Indian community are close to the threshold of gaining permanent residency after working in the local area for four years. They fear they will be left in limbo when their work visas run out.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said this means the families’ work visas would expire before they met the new criteria.
"These people are entirely self-supporting, they are working hard and not relying on the benefits system," he said.
"I think there needs to be more work done with these families, these people are going to have to reapply for their permits which they may not get."
Indian national Jiby Mathew says the new law could make things very difficult for his community. "My wife and many other wives are working as qualified nurses in Altnagelvin. We are saying that those coming before the new law should be exempted.
"To take British citizenship makes big difficulties for us. The Indian government can then seize our bank accounts and property. All our children are in P2, 3 and 4 in local schools. We are worried for them."
The problem particular to Indian citizens is that the Indian government does not allow dual citizenship.
It may have been made easier to become a British citizen but if Indian nationals give up their passports they cannot have a bank account or own property in India and would require a visa to return to the country.