The pilot plan for the Home Office to introduce £3,000 visa bonds on visitors from countries in Africa and Asia has been scrapped according to a report published today in The Sunday Times. Nick Clegg threatened to block the policy and David Cameron backed off from a full-scale confrontation with the Liberal Democrat leader.
The countries labelled “high risk” were India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana. From this month visitors from these countries would have had to pay a £3,000 cash bond before arrival in the UK. The cash bond would have been forfeited if they failed make the return trip home on time. If there had not been a U turn, India, Nigeria and Ghana, countries with some of the fastest growing economies, might well have retaliated with their own visa bonds for visitors from the UK. The £3,000 bonds would also have had social implications for those already living in the UK.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, raised his concerns on the BBC Today Programme in mid-September when he said “I mean certainly the reaction to it from our friends in India and elsewhere, where we’re trying to build up a lot of trade and have very good relationships is one of outrage and I think we’re going to have to do this in a much more sensible way.”
The official line is that Theresa May’s immigration bill is already introducing measures to tackle illegal immigrants e.g changes to the appeal rights of foreign criminals; requiring landlords to check the immigration status of tenants; and preventing illegal migrants from getting access to driving licences and bank accounts. Plans too for a nationwide deployment of vans emblazoned with the message “go home or face arrest” were condemned as racist and unworkable and were cancelled last month.