HSMP campaigners confident of winning argument over forcing existing skilled migrants to reapply to stay in UK

A leading figure behind last week’s High Court challenge to the government’s changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) has declared that he is “confident” of victory.

Amit Kapadia, director of campaign group HSMP Forum, also hit out at immigration minister Liam Byrne for not attending the hearing on 5 March.

Lawyers representing HSMP Forum at the judicial review argued that the changes made by Byrne in November 2006 were unfair because they meant foreign workers already in the UK under the programme were effectively required to reapply under the tougher rules.

A decision is not expected until later this month, but Kapadia told Personnel Today that he is optimistic about the outcome.

“Our barristers are confident the judge felt strongly that there was unfairness, and that this was shown by the questions he put to the Home Office,” he said.

“Liam Byrne would definitely have learned something about why we feel the changes are unfair – the court was packed with HSMP visa holders.”

Despite his confidence that the court will decide the changes were unfair, Kapadia is worried it will not go far enough in choosing a remedy.

“We are up against a very powerful opponent,” he said. “How far the court goes in terms of quashing the changes is hard to predict.”

Campaigners have estimated that up to 40,000 foreign workers could be forced out of the country by the changes, with many already sent home.

Opposition MPs, an immigration judge and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have all previously said the changes were unlawful. Kapadia said the HSMP Forum was highly likely to appeal if the High Court backed the Home Office.

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