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UK Immigration farce
03 November 2008 ~ 14:30You know, the British government can't seem to stop fidling around with things, trying to change things that work perfectly well already. Like the British immigration system.
A few years ago they introduced the 'Marriage Visit Visa.' Anyone from outside the EU needed a special visa to marry in the UK, and as far as I know, we are the only country that have this requirement.
Now, I can understand the need for a visa for anyone who might gain an immigration benefit by marrying in the UK. If you marry a British citizen or permanent resident, for example. But if a, say, Canadian couple decide they want to marry in a Scottish castle, why the hell do they need a special visa, when marrying in Scotland would give them absolutely no right to remain in the UK as anything other than visitors for a limited period? Honestly, why? It's beaucracy gone mad.
Now, the UK proposes to get rid of the current path to permanent residency and citizenship. This used to be the process of acquiring a time-limited visa before entering the UK, then after a certain length of time, applying for permanent residency (called 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' or ILR for short). In the case of those married to a UK citizen it was two years before you could apply for ILR. Now they want to introduce something called 'probationary citizenship' in a misguided attempt to bully immigrants into becoming British citizens. Which is charming considering many countries don't allow dual citizenship, so acquiring British nationality means they'd no longer be able to go back to live in their home country at any point in the future. (They are even debating whether to allow permanent residency as a status to still exist).
And there are other reasons immigrants might not want citizenship. They should have the choice. Perhaps they just feel, like my husband does, that they'd be betraying their home country, or perhaps they don't want to say an oath to the Queen.
The blackmail is that 'probationary citizenship' will have to be held for two years longer for those who want to only acquire permanent residency. In the case of spouses of Britons (times vary for work visa holders), it would be two years on a spouse visa, a year on probationary citizenhip, then full citizenship. This is the same timeframe as before. BUT for those who opt out of full citizenship, they have to do THREE years probationary citizenship before they can apply for permanent residence.
The idea of this probationary period is so that immigrants can still be deported, be barred from citizenship or have the countdown time increased if they commit a crime. But what on earth is wrong with doing what the Americans do, simply saying that citizenship acquired through naturalisation is not sacred and can be revoked if a serious crime is committed? I can't understand introducing all this probationary citizenship nonsense because they don't want to take the step of taking citizenship away. Fair enough if you're born British, obviously you can't take it away then, but if you naturalised, I say yes, if you are a threat to the public, take your burgandy passport back and kick you out of the country.
Even crazier, the government propose to 'fast track' citizenship for anyone who does voluntary work, (the idiots call this 'active citizenship') and to charge an extra fee on top of the existing visa fees for the 'strain immigrants place of the infrastructure.'
Of course, this is all a proposal at the moment, and peoples' opinions were canvassed on the ideas. In a nutshell, the proposals didn't go down too well, many saying this 'simplification' actually makes it more complicated than the current arrangement (no duh, like adding an extra step is simplification?). It's just so dumb to have to have 'probationary citizenship' if you have no intention to apply for citizenship. Lots of people also said that it was unfair to expect immigrants to do voluntary work when most Brits don't do so, also, having to contribute financially (working/paying taxes) was one mandatory thing suggested, and as was commented by quite a few, how are immigrants supposed to work, volunteer and still spend time with their families?
I really hope, given the cool reception to these proposals, that they decide not to go ahead. I mean, how much is it going to cost, how much has it cost so far? I bet they will go through with it though, as this government a) never cared what people think and b) loves making changes for changes' sake.
The whole thing actually makes me angry. Some commented that they believed the whole thing was just designed to put immigrants off. The fact is, they can't do anything to reduce EU immigration and can't refuse to accept asylum seeks, so they go after the group of immigrants who actually place the least burden on society and want to work and contribute. And visa fees are already very high. Applying for ILR in person costs £950.
I personally feel that they think people should be desperate for British citizenship, but the fact is that a lot of people aren't, they are quite happy with just permission to stay here indefinitely. I cannot think of any other country that tries to force citizenship. Most countries have a permanent residence status eg USA green card holder.
If you ask me, this is all done in a misguided attempt to appease the average Joe who is 'anti immigration.' In fact 'Joe' is probably just against illegal immigration and asylum seekers, and if he meets an Australian girl on the Internet and wants to bring her to live in the UK, his attitude will probably become quite different.