BRITAIN'S immigration policies may be in a mess but the invariably negative interventions of the organisation Migrationwatch do not help. Yesterday it attempted to disprove that the government's claim of national economic benefit from immigration by calculating that the advantage was no more the two pounds per head of the population per year. The Confederation of British Industry challenged the figure and reiterated that “overall, migration is good for employment and good for the economy.” However, the government has been caught out in a particularly nasty piece of retrospective legislation which has put many valuable immigrants in a difficult position. The “highly skilled migrants programme” was introduced four years ago to encourage well-qualified people to come to Britain in return for a promise that they would be offered permanent residence after four years. Some 20'000 people, among them scientists.

IT specialists and entrepreneurs, accepted the deal but now find that the Home Office has changed the rules so that they have to apply to extend their visas under different criteria. Many sold businesses and homes in order to establish themselves and their families in Britain but may now be told that they will have to leave because their qualifications do not meet the new criteria. Several of those affected have pointed out that they could have gone to the United States or Canada but chose Britain because of Commonwealth or other connections and now feel that Britain has broken faith with them.


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