The UK Coalition Government is flirting with Immigration Bonds.
The Wimbledon tennis tournament has just begun in the UK and John McEnroe is commentating. So, right on cue, many of us are saying "you cannot be serious".
In short, the UK government, from November, plans to charge 6 month immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria £3000 to come to the UK. Individuals get it back if they do not violate the terms of their visa.
Given the mean national income of the 6 countries, this is like charging a UK immigrant £30,000 to go to the USA.
This is what the Home Office says about the bonds:
"The UK Government announced its intention to consider trialling the use of financial bonds as a way of tackling abuse in the immigration system some time ago. Since then, discussions have been ongoing within the UK Government about how and when to implement the proposed trial. The details of the policy are still being finalised. Ghana is being considered as a pilot country, along with many others, but no final decision has yet been made. In the event that the pilot scheme goes ahead, the vast majority of visitors would be processed in the normal way. Only a very small number of the highest risk visitors would be required to pay a bond, and the bond would be refunded once the visitor returns home. The scheme would be limited to a select group of countries for the pilot only. If the pilot were successful, the full scheme would be rolled-out worldwide, and high-risk visitors of all nationalities would be required to pay a bond."
“If the pilot were successful...". But what is success?
The scheme may keep abusers out (although many doubt it will) but what about the risk it will keep law abiding citizens out too? These are citizens who study at our universities, form bonds with the UK, invest in it when they return, work hard when they are here and tell the world about our good values.
And what about our standing in the world? It is distressing enough to see UK customs officials predominantly only stopping people with dark skin at the border. Now they have to pay for the privilege.
So this "pilot" will only affect 6 countries (accounting for about a quarter of the world's population no less) and those with 6 month visas, but if successful it will be extended to all countries and all visas!
Well, if it gets implemented (and there is some hope David Cameron will kill it) let's hope it is evaluated with a broad definition of success. If it is I am sure it will show the damage that it surely will do to our country (and probably already has done according to the media in India, Ghana and Nigeria).
Then Mr. Cameron can forget about UK PLC and UKIP and begin coming to terms with UK RIP.