In 2016, the Government started refusing 1,700 Highly Skilled migrants leave to remain in the UK because of their ‘good character’ in relation to non-criminal historic tax discrepancies. We know that people from across the world, including the US, Australia and Canada were on the Tier 1 ‘Highly Skilled’ visa scheme, so why were all those refused leave non-white? All remaining cases now are from 6 South Asian and African countries.
Why has the government been so keen to distance these cases from their implementation of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review recommendations report when we know that Windrush generation victims also came from across the Commonwealth? The Home Office insists that ‘mass fraud’ has been committed without having carried out any investigations to find ‘proof’. The impacts of the Home Office refusals have shattered the mental and physical health of the remaining Highly Skilled people and their families; leaving half destitute and their children without citizenship rights, even when born in the UK. Although some Highly Skilled now have some leave to stay, their future is insecure with no guarantee that these ‘good character’ assessment will not be held against them in the future.
What also does all this mean for Commonwealth relations going forward and for other migrants in the UK where the precedent now seems to be set for criminalisation of people and refusal of visas without investigation, profiling migrants on the basis of their nationality and seemingly unlawful data-sharing between the Home Office and other government departments? This event seeks to explore and answer where we can go from here.