The United Kingdom’s new proposal to require a 3,000-pound bond by visitors from six high-risk, Afro-Asian countries — in which it includes India, Pakistan and Nigeria — has rightly been met with much disgruntlement and resentment. The UK Home Office has announced the scheme (to go into effect from November 1, if approved) in order to ensure that visitors to the country do not overstay the duration of their visit visas, or else they will forfeit their bonds. While the UK may have valid concerns about people overstaying in the country illegally, it already has other means in its system of law to deal with such visitors. Hence, we must question this move and ask whether it is necessary to have such a discriminatory law for people from a certain part of the world that is already beginning to lose trust and confidence in Western countries.
There is caution raised when Britain’s own senior politicians are condemning the government’s new plans to implement the new visa bond scheme. Many are of the opinion that such a move is unfair. Business leaders from India have also protested the new scheme. While the test run for the scheme is scheduled for a 12-month period, there are sure to be some consequences. For example, requiring people to pay an extra 3,000 pounds before travel places an extra burden on the people visiting the UK from these developing economies. This, in turn, could reduce the number of visitors to the UK, which could potentially drive tourism down as well.
Indeed, the new visa scheme has correctly met with debate and opposition. By imposing the new rule, perhaps the government has realised some issues with its current laws to handle visitors who overstay visas. In this case, it is not necessary to develop new laws, but rather, review old ones and work on revising them. With the new bond scheme, only new visitors are going to be punished while the old visitors, who might have actually overstayed their visas, seem to be losing the UK government’s focus.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2013.
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