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UK scraps plan to force ‘high risk’ visitors to pay visa bond

Britain has scrapped a plan to force visitors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria to pay a cash bond of £3,000 (Dh17,547) for a six-month visa.

LONDON // Britain is scrapping a plan to force visitors from India and five other “high risk” countries to pay a cash bond of £3,000 (Dh17,547), the interior ministry said on Sunday.

The British government had been preparing to pilot a scheme requiring visitors from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria as well as India to pay the deposit for a six-month visa.

They would have forfeited the money if they overstayed.

“The government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying the visa. We have decided not to proceed,” a Home Office spokeswoman said.

Reports in June said the scheme would initially target hundreds of visitors before being extended to affect several thousand.

The plan had prompted an outcry from government and business leaders in India, with which Britain has been trying to foster a closer trade relationship.

The Nigerian foreign minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, also said in June that the bond scheme was “not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the Commonwealth family”.

The Sunday Times newspaper reported yesterday that the scheme backed by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives had been blocked by junior coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Cameron’s government has been seeking to show it is serious about a promise to cut net migration into Britain below 100,000 a year by the next election in 2015, amid an electoral threat from the anti-immigrant United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

* Agence France-Presse

Updated: November 3, 2013 04:00 AM