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In memoriam


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tombstone-clipartI want briefly to acknowledge the passing of the Working Holiday Maker scheme today. It was one of the last vestiges of the favourable treatment of Commonwealth countries and their nationals.

It was always problematic, to be honest. Whites could get into the country under the scheme but non-whites could not. I remember seeing the statistics for the year 2000, when 10 Bangladeshis were admitted under the scheme as opposed to 17,000 Australians. I doubt much changed since then.

It was difficult not to regard the scheme as racist, so in some respects I have mixed feelings about its passing. Most immigration lawyers and activists would agree that it would have been better to retain the scheme and apply the criteria fairly, though.

The retired person of independent means route also died today. I’ve never actually dealt with an applicant under this category before and have little to say about it, but I imagine it was very useful for well-to-do families who would not represent any risk of a burden on public funds but who were not about to meet the stringent terms of immigration rule 317 for other dependent relatives.

The Lords debated the new immigration rules on Tuesday but the only concession I can see is regarding maintenance of applicants and their dependents under the Points Based Scheme, whereby their sponsor can give a maintenance guarantee to replace the requirements to hold funds of £533 in the bank account for three months prior to entry. It looks like more thought is going into sponsored researchers. The list of permissible activities for business visitors seems to be on the UKBA website in the relevant section.

I still find it difficult to believe that the Home Office is pressing ahead with the rise in spouse visa age to 21. Anyone caught by this provision who is not involved in a forced marriage would have a very strong chance of success on appeal, I would say – but will have to wait months for the appeal and pay high lawyers fees with no guarantee of success.

The Commons are due to debate the changes because of Dave’s EDM, but with Home Office lead-in times being as short as they are, there will be no opportunity until after the changes have come into effect.

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The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.


3 Responses

  1. Indeed the passiing of the WHM scheme is worth mourning. I remember going to India in 2002 and informing the public about the scheme. In fact it was an effective tool in encouraging people from punjab not to enter the UK illegally but instead appy througb this scheme instead. The application of this scheme at the BHC in Delhi was in practice fairly discriminatory in the fact that 90% of applicants from punjab would be refused but this produced plenty of appeal work as 1 Pump Court will testify! The WHM scheme did to some extent make the public aware that it is better to enter the UK on a visa rather than enter illegally. However under the new PBS i am afraid we will see a high refusal rate at the BHC in Delhi as most punjabi’s dont qualify. Add to the fact that there are no appeal rights and i am afraid that once again the youth of India will be tempted by the agents to be taken abroad via the incorrect means. Also we will have an increase in the number of people not returning who come on visas. Many WHM’s returned back to india in time and then went to Australia as students or applied to go to NZ or Canada. It provided good travel history for them.

    For many lawyers like myself who dont do asylum and survive on entry clearance the passing of the WHM scheme is a kick in the N*ts…I am equally sure that many barristers will see a huge reduction in work.

  2. Not much of my current work is made of working holiday maker cases, but I’ve certainly dealt with a lot of them over the years – always refusals of ‘New Commonwealth’ countries rather than ‘Old Commonwealth’, i.e. Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Almost always the refusal was refused on the basis of lack of intention to return, based on nothing more than the ECO’s suspicion, and even sometimes quite explicitly on the basis of applications not being ‘within the spirit of the scheme’. There are a lot of losers from this change, and only the Japanese do well. In passing, I only discovered there had been a scheme for Japan when I saw that it had been abolished in the new rules.

  3. I have seen the following in a WHM refusal notice ..’your travel itinery reads like a list of tourist attractions.Furthermore i note these places could be visited in a matter of days.It is therefore not comprehensive enough for the two years you intend to spend in uk’ etc etc….. But surely the whole of the uk is accessible in a matter of days?And tourist attractions the main point in most holidays? With all due respect to the visa system my biggest gripe is the patronising tone of the refusal notices.Almost inferring that because the applicant is foreign speaking then they must be ignorant too.They normally aren’t,and i personally think it shows us up in a bad light.The removal of appeal rights will be a blow to the applicant as well as the lawyers as i believe it was quite an expensive visa too