Saturday, March 3, 2012

Secret EU deal forces Britain to take in 12,000 Indian workers despite soaring unemployment

Brussels has drawn up a secret diktat which could force Britain to admit 12,000 workers from India despite soaring unemployment at home. The order is part of an EU-wide plan to boost trade with India. EU officials say that, in return for opening up the jobs market, countries such as Britain will be helped to land lucrative export deals.

But, of 40,000 workers who will be allowed to live and work in Europe, Britain has been told it must take 12,000, according to leaked EU documents. This is far more than any other EU nation - and twice the number which will be permitted France. Even Germany, which has one of the world’s largest economies, will admit only 8,000 workers.

The Indian migrants, who can live and work in Britain for six months, will be in addition to people given visas under Britain’s supposedly strict immigration cap.

This is despite the EU not normally being allowed to meddle in Britain’s border controls. It comes at a time when UK unemployment is close to a 17-year high, at 2.67million.

The negotiations on the India deal - which have been led by Vince Cable’s Business Department - have been going on in the shadows for years. A large number of the beneficiaries will be IT workers, who already arrive in large numbers from India.

Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of Migration Watch, said: ‘The (negotiations) are quite clearly against the interests of British workers at a time of very high unemployment. ‘That, presumably, is why the government has been keeping quiet about them. ‘The six month limit, although completely unenforceable, keeps them out of the official immigration figures. However, in practice, this agreement, if signed, would open the door for thousands of new migrants. ‘Of particular concern is our IT workforce - already being undercut by Indian IT companies - which will be put under further pressure.’

The details emerged in a leaked copy of the EU/India Free Trade Agreement, which is due to be signed later this year. It was first initiated by Former Trade Commissioner Lord Mandelson in 2007. The aim is to encourage greater export trade between the EU and India.

Central to the agreement is the EU’s offer on what is known as ‘Mode 4’, which will allow Indian companies to bring temporary workers into the EU. The EU has proposed that, overall, 40,000 Indian workers will be admitted without any labour market test as to their impact on the resident workforce. The proposal is for each member state to take a proportion of the EU commitment.

The UK allocation of 12,000 is 30 per cent of the total - despite the UK making up only 12 per cent of the EU’s population.

Critics points out that, although the proposed stay in the UK is limited to six months, there are currently no checks on departure nor obligations on employers to ensure that migrants return home. A six month period means no tax or National Insurance will be paid in the UK.

The 12,000 is only a minimum commitment, rather than a ceiling. The worker are in addition to the current cap of 20,700 work permits given to non-EU skilled migrants. Instead, the visas would be issued under the -so-called ‘International Agreements’ category of the immigration system. Last year only 453 visas were issued under this route.

Ministers are desperately struggling to hit the Prime Minister’s target of reducing net migration - the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK, and those leaving - to the ‘tens of thousands’. Currently, net migration stands close to a record high at 250,000.

However, only migrants who move to Britain for 12 months or more are included in this total. This means the Indian workers will never register in the figures.


Ottawa to tighten spousal immigration sponsorship rules

In a move intended to crack down on bogus marriages, Ottawa has increased the length of time that a sponsored immigrant can turn around and sponsor a new partner.

The new rules take effect immediately and are meant to prevent people from fraudulently marrying Canadians to get into the country, only to turn around and leave that sponsor to bring in another spouse.

Canadians who sponsor immigrants are financially responsible for them for three years. Under the new rules, a spouse must wait five years from the day they are granted permanent residence status in Canada before they can sponsor a new spouse.

"I held town hall meetings across the country to hear from victims of marriage fraud," said Citizen and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a statement. The minister made the announcement Friday in Brampton, Ont.

"In addition to the heartbreak and pain that came from being lied to and deceived, these people were angry. They felt they had been used as a way to get to Canada. We're taking action because immigration to Canada should not be built upon deceit."

The minister was not immediately available for a comment.

The rule changes are in line with United States, Australia and the United Kingdom which have waiting periods of two to three years before a sponsored spouse could be come a permanent resident of Canada.

Kenney has long promised to tackle marriage fraud. Two years ago, Ottawa held online consultations to solicit public opinion on the issue.

The new measures come just weeks after Ottawa resident Lainie Towell's ex-husband was deported to his native Guinea. Towell's husband left her nearly one year after they exchanged vows in Guinea and four weeks after he arrived in Canada as Towell's sponsored spouse.


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