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Expatriates criticize UK bond requirements for immigrants

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Expatriates criticize UK bond requirements for immigrants

Despite being one of the smallest nations in Western Europe, the U.K. is also one of the most densely populated. With more than 65 million people inhabiting this small island, numerous politicians and advocacy groups have called for reform of Great Britain's immigration policies. The government's recent decision to institute a $4,500 bond for foreign nationals hailing from certain "high-risk" countries in Asia and Africa has angered some expatriates, according to Muscat Daily.

Claims of discrimination
The bond system has been implemented on a trial basis. Under the new regulations, citizens of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana will be required to pay the Home Office the sum to serve as a deterrent against long-term immigration without the requisite paperwork. The bond will be returned to expatriates when they leave the U.K., but some expatriates remain outspoken toward the plan, claiming the policy is discriminatory and could harm legitimate immigrants' chances of securing documentation to live and work in Great Britain.

"I was planning to go to the U.K. for my master's degree; I think this move is derogatory," Arun Nair, an Indian expatriate living in Oman, told the news source. "The visa fee is equal to one-fourth of my tuition fees. Countries like Germany and Australia are welcoming students and visitors. People don't want to go countries where they have to pay more and are not considered the same as other nationals in terms of respect or treatment."

Family ties
According to The Economic Times, another criticism leveled at the plan is the fact that even legal expatriates living and working in the U.K. face additional hardships when attempting to secure documentation for immediate relatives. 

While some immigration advocates agree that illegal immigration is a serious problem in Great Britain, many added that the Home Office's decision sent the wrong message to professionals from the "at-risk" countries and contradicted Home Secretary Theresa May's claims that she wants to attract the "best and brightest" to the country.

Many expatriates choose to stay in short term rental apartments and furnished extended stay units upon arrival in a foreign country. Whether the British government's decision to levy bonds against citizens of certain countries will harm the country's property market remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that the move could have lasting economic implications, particularly if the program is expanded to foreign nationals from other countries.