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Indian immigrants 'treated like criminals' in UK

June 23, 2009 14:28 IST

Indian immigrants, with permanent residency rights in the United Kingdom, have complained of harassment and 'treatment like criminals' by British immigration officers on returning to the country from trips abroad, a forum representing highly-skilled workers has claimed.

'Migrants from India and other Non-European Economic Area countries are being treated like criminals by immigration officers at airports, when re-entering Britain,' Highly Skilled Migrant Programme Forum, said in a statement in London.

Citing an instance, it said a doctor working in National Health Service for the past nine years, Dr Sujit Nair, reported on his experience when he recently returned from holiday in India.

Dr Nair said, 'The immigration officer at Glasgow Airport bombarded me with questions, which was subsequently followed up by a police officer, despite having an Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residency) in the UK. On both occasions, I felt very intimidated and unwelcome.'

The Forum said similar complaints had come from non-EU immigrants, but a majority were from Asians.

'The interrogation usually consists of questions irrelevant to legitimate skilled migrants such as why did you book your holidays for 40 days? How did your employer allow it? Why are you working in this job? Why can't you find a job in some other field? Are you married? Where was your child born? Who paid for your child's delivery,' the Forum said.

If the Immigration officer is not convinced that what the migrant and his family said is true then they are detained at the airport, their passports are taken away and they are issued with a temporary admission letter that supersedes their original valid long term visa.

'We are very concerned and have raised the matter with the UK Border Agency. However, the explanation given was not satisfactory,' Amit Kapadia, Executive Director of the Forum, said.

'Immigration officers are being issued with absolute power to detain legitimate, hard-working immigrants based on grounds of suspicion alone and without any reasonable doubt,' he said.

Dr Amaresh Swaro, Executive Committee member of the Forum, said: 'As much as it is important for the immigration officers to carry out checks properly, it is also important to make sure that legal migrants are not harassed unnecessarily.'

H S Rao in London
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