Skilled migrants celebrate after being given go ahead to challenge visa rules

Thousands of skilled migrants are celebrating another legal victory over the Home Office after being given the green light to challenge retrospective changes to their visas.

Campaigners HSMP Forum applied to the High Court seeking permission to challenge government rules forcing skilled migrants to extend their visas to five years when they were originally promised permanent settlement in the UK, known as indefinite leave to remain, after four years.

A High Court judge said HSMP Forum “clearly has an arguable case”, and threw out home secretary Jacqui Smith’s attempts to stall proceedings. A full hearing is due soon.

Earlier this year, HSMP Forum won a long-running legal battle forcing the government to repeal changes that made it much harder for skilled migrants to gain permanent settlement in the UK. The government subsequently repealed the stricter rules but not the change from four to five years.

Amit Kapadia, executive director of HSMP Forum, which represents people with highly skilled migrant programme visas, said several people have won individual cases forcing the Home Office to grant them permanent settlement after four years as originally promised.

“The rule changes we are fighting against have been repeatedly condemned on all sides of politics, including by the government’s own MPs, members of the House of Lords, various government and non-government committees and human rights experts – and, of course, by the High Court,” Kapadia said.

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