The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fingerprint rule for UK visas

London, Feb. 7: Even big babus who apply for visas to come to the UK from India will in future have to undergo the humiliation of being finger-printed, under new proposals announced today by home secretary Charles Clarke to cut down illegal immigration and bogus asylum seekers.

An Indian official said: 'I don't think we will make a fuss since this will apply to everyone and fall within the parameters of their security.'

The Americans fingerprint visitors on arrival and even Indian ministers on official visits, who at first refused to submit, had to agree to be fingerprinted and have their eyes photographed before being admitted.

Under UK rules, airlines will also have to keep photocopies of all passports to beat passengers who tear up their travel documents and then claim asylum on arrival in Britain.

Today's package of measures from the government is widely viewed as a nervous response to last month's announcement by Michael Howard, the Tory leader, that he would impose a quota on asylum and new immigration if the Conservatives win the general election expected in May.

There will be a points system for economic migrants but even Indian students will find it harder to stay on in the UK after finishing their studies, as many have done in the past.

Clarke said: 'Workers and students will be required to have sponsors such as employers or educational institutions who will share the responsibility of ensuring they leave at the end of their time in the UK.'

The government will introduce financial bonds, in certain cases, to guarantee migrants return home when they should.

At present, those who are allowed to work in the UK are generally allowed to stay on after four years but this period is being extended to five.

Even asylum seekers, who are let in, will be admitted initially on a temporary basis. If the situation in their countries is deemed to have improved, they will be expected to return. The right of settlement will only be given after five years.

Key measures in the strategy include:

A transparent points system for those coming in to work or study:

Financial bonds for specific categories where there has been evidence of abuse, to guarantee that migrants return home.

An end to chain migration ' no immediate or automatic right for relatives to bring in more relatives.

An end to appeals when applying from abroad to work or study.

Only skilled workers allowed to settle long-term in the UK and English language tests for everyone who wants to stay permanently.

Fixed penalty fines for employers for each illegal worker they employ as part of the drive against illegal working.

The problem for Britain is that it has an ageing population.

The director of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Digby Jones, said: 'Without the option of being able to recruit from abroad, sectors like construction, IT and hospitality would have severe problems. The UK needs skilled migrants who speak English and participate in the economy.'

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