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“Will pay 3 lakhs if visa is guaranteed” migrants react to new UK visa policy

26, Jun 2013 By Amit Bhandari

Chandigarh. Though it has been panned as racist, the British Government’s move requiring a 3,000 pound bond for potential visitors to UK has found support from an unexpected quarter – potential migrants. Long cheated by human smugglers and visa agents, these people now see an easier way of getting into UK. And cheaper to boot.

“I can’t see what the fuss is about?” says Joginder, a villager from Punjab, who spoke to us waiting in a queue outside a travel agent’s office in Ludhiana, “Last year, my cousin brother paid five lakh rupees to a human smuggler to take him to the UK, and he had to spend 1 month inside a dark container with 20 others. The worst part was that he didn’t even reach UK. The group was dumped in Greece where they were arrested and deported back to India. I think the British government’s scheme is much better and cost effective.”

Daler Mehndi
Singer Daler Mehndi was accused of charging 4.5 lakhs rupees for a fake foreign trip six years ago. Migrants cite such rates to claim that the UK government is not charging too high.

His friends, who were also in the queue with him, nodded in agreement.

Aspiring NRIs from other states also voiced support for this move, with many requesting other governments to follow suit.

“I don’t know about British government being racist, but when will the Gulf countries adopt a similar scheme?” asked Sankaran, an electrician in Kochi hoping to migrate to the Middle-East.

Meanwhile, Indian government and business associations, who have slammed this move as discriminatory have found support from an expected quarter – the Human Smugglers Association of India.

“Like Obama took away IT jobs from Bangalore, Cameron is taking away our jobs from Bhatinda!” protested Aya Ram, CEO of Hawai Kabootar travel agency, “You tell us, who will use our services if British government undercuts us with a cheaper rate?”

“Plus, it is a bad business decision – our research suggests that a visa to UK is worth much more than 3,000 pounds to a potential visitor. This goes completely against the legacy of late Ms. Margaret Thatcher,” he added.

When told about the financial problems of the British government, he softened a bit though, “If they want money, we can give them 3,000 pounds for each parcel we bring in, no need for return, no questions asked. But why the need for such steps?”