August 25, 2003The old scheme has generally been a success. It permitted applicants, mainly (but not exclusively) from the old Commonwealth, to have some experience of Britain and to contribute to our economy.
They were allowed to work in non-professional jobs provided it was "incidental to their holiday". In practice, the limit was up to 50% of their time here and for a maximum of two years after which they were obliged to leave. They amounted to about 40,000 a year and the vast majority returned home since they came from countries at about the same economic level as Britain.'
The new scheme, which comes into effect on 25 August, keeps the name but is otherwise entirely different. Under the new arrangements," working holidaymakers" will be allowed to take up work in any sector, work full time, move freely between employers and switch to work permits after just twelve months. The upper age limit is raised from 27 to 30. Work Permits are valid for up to five years and entitle the holder to bring in dependants immediately and, after four years, to apply for settlement. In recent years 95% of such applications have been granted.
Neither the old nor the new scheme has a limit to the number admitted. The changes are designed to encourage applicants from the new Commonwealth countries but these students, given the economic disparities, are much less likely to return home.
There are neither health checks before they come or checks on their departure from Britain.
'This scheme is wide open to exploitation`, said Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of MigrationwatchUK. `It amounts to an unlimited and uncontrolled work permit scheme which, initially, does not even require an application from an employer, still less any evidence of a shortage of British workers.
'Anyone in the entire Commonwealth who can assemble funds for two months expenses in Britain can apply for one of these visas and then disappear as soon as he arrives. If detected, he can claim asylum and live for a year or two at the taxpayers` expense while the legal machinery grinds on.
'The changes in fact alter the whole nature of the scheme and amount to an uncontrolled back door to Britain,' said Sir Andrew.
'It is impossible to understand the government's logic. On the one hand they are making great efforts to reduce the number of asylum seekers. On the other, they are opening a back door to economic migrants on a substantial scale.The implementation of any such scheme should be delayed until the Government have restored control over our borders,' he said.