UK immigration akin to English weather?
Posted on April 11th, 2011

Dr. Tilak Fernando


The latest change in British immigration Law permits entrepreneurs and investors who can come up with ten million or five million Euros to settle permanently in the UK in two or three years respectively

New Law




*Plan to restrict foreigners

*Tailor made for rich

A news release through the British High Commission in Colombo last week highlighted the latest move as a strategic plan to boost Britain’s economic recovery, in line with the British Immigration Minister’s expectation.

Critics say Britain’s immigration policy is somewhat akin to the proverbial English weather which can never be predicted! During Margaret Thatcher’s premiership students from the Commonwealth and developing countries received stepmotherly treatment when University fees were increased to exorbitant levels in favour of students from oil rich countries. This had a direct economic impact on British Universities and a refractive effect on the British Industry itself when such policies made inroads for foreign students to train in other Western and communist countries.

Luxurious life styles

Demonstrations against University tuition fees in Central London. Picture courtesy: Google

Since Colonial rule, some Sri Lankans still seem to believe that life in England is a “ƒ”¹…”bed of roses’. Few comparing the Sterling Pound conversion to Lankan rupee at a phenomenal ratio do not seem to look beyond their nose and take other vital factors into consideration when living in a foreign Western country. However, British University education and qualification still holds its prestige and high level of recognition throughout the world, thus some parents are prepared to forsake their luxurious life styles in Sri Lanka “ƒ”¹…”purely for the sake of their children’s education and future’. This trend appears to continue despite many overseas Universities linked to Sri Lankan seats of learning are mushrooming rapidly.

Immigration Regulations in the UK have been constantly enhanced to block several loopholes that existed. Issuance of entry permits through foreign British Missions, following a conventional one- to-one interview with a Visa Officer to satisfy the bona fides of an applicant has lately been commissioned to private agencies to do the initial “ƒ”¹…”spade work’ thus turning a visa applicant’s efforts more strenuous, frustrating and at times a complete nightmare.

Labour markets

Many travellers seeking entry to Britain without a proper entry visa or being mislead by tricksters with deceitful promises have ended up in detention camps, suffered humiliation and faced deportation even without seeing the “ƒ”¹…”colour of Britain’.

Implementation of an Immigration Act simply means restriction of the influx of foreigners to a country, as visitors, students, migrants or refugees.

Initially with the expansion of the British Empire, Afro-Caribbean people were brought to Britain as slaves, on ships that carried imperial products, by planters, military and naval officers while immigrants ended up working as household and domestic servants for wealthy and aristocratic families. Subsequently, African and Carribean labour “ƒ”¹…”imported’ to Britain in shiploads were used to fill the vacuum that existed in lower range of labour markets.

Immigration laws

With second and third generations of such immigrants, together with settlers from the Commonwealth and former British Colonies, Britain has transformed into a multi-cultural and multi-racial country today.

The first clamping down on British immigration came to Britain in 1905 aimed at Jewish, Ukrainian and the Irish with the “ƒ”¹…”Aliens Act’ to control immigrant workers and their rights. The Act which included a quota system was believed by some as a concept of racist immigration laws.

Aliens Work Permit Act came to effect in 1914. In 1919 an amendment to this Act strengthened the muscle of the Immigration Authorities to refuse and deport those who could not support themselves and their families.

In 1925 “ƒ”¹…”Special Restrictions (Coloured Alien Seamen) Order’ came to effect. British Nationality Act in 1948 established a common citizenship with the citizens of the UK and Colonies. This gave much the freedom to enter and settle in Britain within the framework of the Act.

Family member

The right of Commonwealth citizens to enter Britain was eliminated in 1962 with the introduction of the Commonwealth Immigration Act where entries were controlled by means of a work permit. This act also abolished the right of persons in dependent territories to settle in the UK.

In 1964 Nationality Act preserved the right to resume citizenship for White settlers from Africa who were under pressure to resume citizenship of newly independent countries.

In 1968 Commonwealth Immigration Act established a complete system of immigration control to all “ƒ”¹…”partials’. It also introduced immigration rules by which the Home Secretary could lay down rules of effect and interpretation of the Act.

In 1981 British Nationality Act created a three tier nationality system and abolished the principle of IVA SOLI – the right of person born in the UK to acquire British nationality.

In 1986 visitors from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria had to obtain a visa prior to travelling to the UK.

Airlines violating this regulation and transported passengers to the UK without a proper entry permit were fined heavily up to Sterling Pounds 1,000 while the white Commonwealth countries including South Africa were excluded from such a requirement.

Employment facilities

In 1988 Immigration Act made it compulsory for husbands and fathers settled in the UK to show means of support prior to sponsoring a family member to join.

Since 1983 Tamil and Sinhala refugees have become a different entity seeking political asylum in England with strategies of alleged “ƒ”¹…”victimisation’.

While some masqueraded as “ƒ”¹…”students’ others have made use of loopholes to circumvent the immigration law which in itself has made the Brits to tighten immigration and ended up with a new format of points-based system.

This in fact has broadened restrictions on bona-fide students and post graduates too in their temporary employment facilities in Britain.

The latest change of mind on the immigration law in Britain where the rich and entrepreneurial stock are given an easy ride to permanent stay in Britain can be seen as turning another leaf in the controversial immigration statutory book in Britain.

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