The article below by Damian Green appeared in British Asian newspaper, the Eastern Eye on 2 September 2010.
‘I want to tackle head-on the perception that the UK’s new immigration policy is about closing the door on Indian business, students and visitors,’ writes immigration minister.
The minister recently returned from a three-day trip to India where he met with government ministers as part of a consultation process on the UK’s immigration policy. Joint work to prevent illegal immigration to the UK was also discussed.
‘I went to India because I wanted to tackle head-on the perception that the UK’s new immigration policy is about closing the door on Indian business, students and visitors.
For more than 100 years the UK has benefited from the skills and talents of immigrants from all over the world, in particular from India. Immigration has enriched British culture and enhanced our economy and the new coalition government is committed to maximising the benefits of legitimate trade, travel and migration.
Immigration must be controlled
A limit on numbers migrating to the UK will not prevent us welcoming the brightest and best from India, and elsewhere. But, immigration must be properly controlled so that people have confidence in the system, our communities are stable and our public services protected.
We are currently consulting on how best to implement our policy to limit economic migration. I had the opportunity to discuss proposals on how the limit can work with the Indian minister of commerce and industry, Shri Anand Sharma, and took part in a fruitful conversation with some of India’s top businesses, encouraging them to reply formally to the consultation.
My discussions with Indian ministers also focused on our countries’ shared commitment to ensuring that those who wish to study in the UK have the necessary qualifications and financial means to do so. The UK government’s current evaluation of student visas will help us to do this, while preventing those who use the student route to try to evade the UK’s immigration rules.
Bogus college crackdown
It is important to make sure that genuine students are protected from exploitation by bogus colleges in the UK. The UK Border Agency are shutting down bogus colleges and targeting the criminals who exploit those desperate to come to the UK.
It is not only bogus colleges who exploit those who genuinely want to come to the UK to study. A key topic during my meetings in India was our joint efforts to tackle the activities of unscrupulous agents. Dodgy agents play a significant role in orchestrating much of the abuse of the visa rules, in particular for student visas.
I was reassured by the Indian government that they are taking steps to regulate agents, as we already do in the UK. This will protect applicants from exploitation and to give UK education providers and employers confidence that they are recruiting the best students and workers.
As part of my trip I travelled to the Punjab. There I met with members of the police and saw excellent examples of the way in which they have been helping the UK Border Agency to crack down on fraudulent attempts to get UK visas, and return illegal immigrants to the Punjab.
Many people travel between our two countries to conduct business, to study, to visit family or as tourists. I welcome this and want to ensure that our visa processes support this sort of travel. At the same time, we must ensure that these routes are used properly and are not used to avoid the UK’s immigration rules.
Reducing UK net migration
I want to protect those who are playing by the rules from those who are not. While the coalition government has made clear our intention to reduce net migration to the UK from the hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands each year, Britain will continue to welcome the talented, the skilled and the entrepreneurial as we have always done.
India has traditionally been a rich source of such people. A migration system that supports such ties is one that will help underpin the stronger, wider and deeper relationship we want to build.’