Immigration minister Liam Byrne accused of breaking promise to reconsider amendments to highly skilled migrant programme

Campaigners have accused immigration minister Liam Byrne of breaking promises to reconsider changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) – and appealed to incoming prime minister Gordon Brown for help.

Byrne told Personnel Today last month that he would not backtrack on controversial amendments to the programme.

HSMP Forum director Amit Kapadia said he had been waiting since a meeting in March for a response from the minister that was initially promised “in a few days”.

Kapadia said: “The minister has disappointed many HSMP holders who have been waiting to hear from him. During the meeting he informed all the people present that he would get back to MP Keith Vaz or myself in few days’ time about his decision.”

Kapadia insisted he had received letters from Byrne’s office confirming he would give updates of any further developments.

“The minister now says he never intended to make any changes, which for many HSMP holders is another addition to the broken promises of the Home Office,” he said.

“It is very unfortunate that the minister is ignoring vast suffering of HSMP holders due to the retrospective application of the changes made in November 2006. The HSMP Forum will continue to strive to attain removal of the retrospective changes and we hope the new prime minister and home secretary would look into the matter to stop such unfair treatment of HSMP holders.”

The forum claims that up to 40,000 migrants will be forced out of the country when they have to reapply for their visas under the new system.

Byrne has insisted genuinely successful migrants will regain their visas. He said the HSMP changes were a “dry run” for introducing a new points-based immigration system to the UK in early 2008.

The result of a judicial review into the changes is still pending.

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