Highly Skilled Migrant Programme defeat for government

The government has finally accepted defeat in the battle over its controversial changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).

Border and Immigration Agency chief executive Lin Homer has written to campaigners confiming the government will not contest the High Court’s decision that it was acting unlawfully by applying the November 2006 changes to those who entered the UK before that date.

The HSMP Forum has campaigned long and hard for this decision, claiming that up to 40,000 migrant workers could be sent home because the rules for staying in the UK changed once they were here.

Homer said the government had stopped sending letters telling such workers to leave the country. She added that all those who secured their HSMP visas before the changes were made could apply for an extension to stay in the UK until their visa renewal case could be heard according to the old rules.

“Our solicitor is writing formally to your solicitor and the court to let them know that we are happy to take the judge’s decision as final and do not intend to waste taxpayers’ money with an appeal,” the letter stated.

The Home Office had stood firm on its decision to apply the new rules to old HSMP holders despite opposition MPs, the mayor of London, a joint parliamentary committee and the Equality and Human Rights Commission all telling it to back down.

Amit Kapadia, director of the HSMP Forum, which brought the case to the High Court, celebrated victory this weekend. “Our thanks go to the Home Office for accepting the judgment and implementing the original criteria for extension,” he said.

The November 2006 changes made it tougher to secure a HSMP visa to work in the UK, and demanded that all migrants already holding an HSMP visa aplied for renewals under the new rules.

The new rules meant applicants had to be earning more money than before, and could not rely on work experience, achievements or priority points for GPs.

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