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Theresa May charges visitors 3000 pounds for a visa
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Tens of thousands of visitors to Britain will be asked to pay a bond of £3000 before being admitted to the country. The controversial move by Home Secretary Theresa May is an attempt to address abuses of the visa system, or at least an attempt to placate vociferous Tory back-benchers who claim that the visa system is being used as immigration by the back door.
At a time when the Metropolitan Police are again coming under fire for investigations influenced by "institutional racism", the Home Office hardly wants to attract accusations of acting in a discriminatory manner. So the new legislation will apply to immigrants from all countries? Not quite. The countries affected by the first application of the new rules are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.
On the surface, this would seem like a deliberate case of targeting darker-skinned visitors while preserving the right of the average Australian to work as a barman in their local Walkabout indefinitely. The Home Office doesn't quite put it that way, singling out those countries as being particularly prone to visa "abuse".
For May and her cadre of Tory supporters, it is all about the bottom line. "In the long run we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services," she said.
Labour MPs can hardly get too sanctimonious about the measure. In government, they had plans for a similar bond, albeit a cut-price one of £1000. At least they listened to the outcry from migrant groups and abandoned the idea.
The legislation might turn out to have serious repercussions for Britons wanting to visit one of the world's few booming economies on business. India will not take kindly to the bond and may well introduce a similar fee for British visitors to their country in retaliation.