Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Families oppose visitor visa reform

The government is considering restricting people's access to visas, with a range of new measures including having UK families pay 1,000 to sponsor visiting relatives.


Sukitha Karthik
Ms Karthik feels there are too many obstacles to permanent residency

Sukitha Karthik is from Tamil Nadu in southern India. She's an IT consultant and came to the UK two and a half years ago as a highly skilled migrant.

Her daughter is four years old and she wants her to know more about her Indian heritage.

So her parents visit every year for six months.

"They help out with my daughter. She goes to nursery and to the child minder where she only speaks English. We want her to know her Indian side too."

Sukitha has already bought a house here but admits the government's plans could have some bearing on whether she stays.

"I'm trying to understand the government's position. But my parents need to show return tickets when they arrive at the airport, so the rules are already in place. People acting illegally would find loopholes anyway.

The rules are already in place. People acting illegally would find loopholes anyway
Sukitha Karthik

"I want to balance my career with my family life. I would have to think about the future. But this would affect my decision a little."

She is already annoyed with the government for changing the rules and forcing people to work longer here before they can apply for permanent residency. And this would probably make it too expensive to bring her parents over.

"When they visit, they need time to settle and three months is not long enough. The flight tickets are expensive and so is private medical insurance. The costs are doubled.

"I feel cheated. The government wants work and tax from us, but it's not doing anything good for us. It's only seeing the negative side."


Bernadine Mudaly
Mrs Mudaly believes the measures will target the wrong people

Bernadine Mudaly is worried about her mother, who has an auto immune disease which has affected her lungs. It means Bernadine accompanies her when travelling.

"Imagine doing all that for just three months. If you haven't seen someone in ages, six months is not a long time."

Bernadine moved here in 2001 and works in industry. But she insists her mother has no desire to move here too.

"My mum is 56 years old and has never worked in her life. She's been here about four times for six months each and there's never been an issue of her staying longer."

She understands the government's desire to stop illegal immigration but believes it is targeting the wrong people.

"It's horrendous for people like my husband and me. We don't have a thousand pounds lying around. It's more difficult for people coming here wanting to work hard than those living off benefits.

"If this law goes ahead I would be very upset and really worried."


It is not just foreigners living here who could be affected but British citizens too.

Colin Jemide is 45 and was born in the UK. His family returned to Nigeria and he only came back to live in London in his early 20s.

It seems like a blanket punishment for everyone else. Illegal immigrants will simply pay the thousand pounds and that's it
Colin Jemide

He is not worried about the potential 3 month time restriction but the financial implications.

"This year I had four nieces and nephews fly over. If I had to pay a bond that would be 4,000. That's not the sort of money I could afford. It would deprive me of the chance to see them."

One of his brothers also has a British passport so can come and go as he likes. But three other brothers and a sister cannot.

Colin also believes he will suffer for other people's crimes.

"It seems like a blanket punishment for everyone else. I don't think this is the answer. Illegal immigrants will simply pay the thousand pounds and that's it."

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