you can submit an application to remain in the UK under 'the parent route'
The UK has many immigration issues from backlogs of asylum seekers, students overstaying their stay to illegal immigrants trying every way they can to stay in the country.
There really are not definitive statistics available of how many illegal immigrants are actually in the UK, or how the UK government aims to tackle all these immigration issues.
Immigrants staying in the UK be it illegal or here on a ‘visit’ are trying many ways to try and elongate their stay and make it permanent.
Illegally staying in the UK, is still breaking the law and many who are staying here in this manner, do not like it being discussed. But it is a matter which needs to be raised even within the communities that are fully aware that it goes on.
We take a look at the immigration issues related to the South Asian communities and discuss them with Harjap Bhangal, UK’s highly established Immigration Lawyer, to get a better understanding of the problems.
Babies for Visas
One technique that has been used by illegal immigrants is called ‘Babies for Visas’. This is where by having a child in the UK, illegal immigrants can enhance their chance of staying.
“There have been certain cases that the Home Office has across where people have tried to stay in the UK by having children.”
“The Immigration Rules generally create a circumstance where if you are an illegal immigrant or overstayer and you have a child with a British Citizen then you can submit an application to remain in the UK under ‘the parent route’.
“Another rule also exists currently, where if you are a family and have no status and your child has lived in the UK for 7 years continuously, you then may submit an application to remain in the UK.”
This is not a recent method used by immigrants. It even took place in the past, in the late 50’s and 60’s, when the wives and children of South Asian men came here. To solidify their stay, having another child born in the UK helped their case.
Amanpreet Kaur, aged 27, says:
“My grandmother tells us stories of how hard it was in the 60’s and told us that my youngest uncle was born here in the UK, whereas the rest were born in India. They did not plan to have more children but they had him because they were scared of being sent back.”
Another trend that is making use of babies to obtain stay in the UK is where illegal immigrants are having babies with Eastern European women in the UK by paying them. These are called ‘paid babies’, which is a very shocking practice but it is actually happening just to remain in the UK.
Extending Illegal Stay
In addition to the ‘babies for visas’ route, a lot of people try to extend their stay illegally in the UK from the sub-continent. So, what are the other ways do they try to do this? We asked. Harjap says:
“A lot of people are under the misconception that if they are illegal and that they marry a British Citizen then they can remain in the UK. This is not true.”
“The general Home Office position is that if you are illegal and you do marry a British Citizen then you should go back to your country and make a fresh application for entry clearance and apply for a spouse visa, unless of course, as stated earlier, you have British child in the UK.”
Tanveer Khan, says:
“My husband’s brother was here from Pakistan illegally. They married him to a cousin of mine, hoping he would be able to stay. It didn’t work. A year later he was deported. Now he lives there and his wife and children here.”
Marriage tourism is still a big thing for British Asian families. Especially, for arranged marriages. This is where commonly British Asian men go to the sub-continent to find suitable wives. Be it for the first time or after divorce.
This has seen the rise in many marital issues. For example, Asian men marry abroad, have large dowries but then do not return to their wives or even call them over to the UK. And there are many other problems faced frequently by the women in these marriages.
Harjap tells us:
“Marriage breakdown is becoming a huge problem in the Asian community especially in cases where one partner is from abroad.”
“However, there are many reasons for this one being that the person who has come from overseas is generally abused physically and mentally. There have been cases where brides from overseas have been treated similarly to slaves and robots in dire conditions and they are in a new country with nowhere to turn to.
“There are some cases where brides from abroad have absconded upon arrival to the UK. However, these are few and far between and often it is discovered that the UK spouse has deceived the partner coming from abroad by not disclosing the truth about issues.”
Bringing a Spouse Over
With the world becoming smaller because of the Internet, it’s become much easier to meet people online from South Asia.
So, getting married abroad is still an attractive option for many British Asians.
But with the legal requirements and laws changing to deal with illegal immigration issues and sham marriages, the process is not always straightforward.
Daljit, a medical professional, says:
“I’ve always wanted to marry a girl from India. Not that Asian girls in the UK are bad. My preference is India and the Punjab. But the laws are never easy to understand.”
Maria Patel, a banker, says:
“I married my husband in India, who was from there. But getting him over here took much longer than expected because we did not check the legal requirements fully.”
So, we asked Harjap, what are the legal and visa requirements for a person to bring their wife over from South Asia. Who is eligible and who is not?
“The main requirement now revolves around the income of the UK-based sponsor. They must be earning at least £18,600 per annum and must have been working for at least 6 months in a stable job before applying to bring their spouse over.”
Family Vistors and Stay
Most British Asians will have family back home. Be it relatives, grandparents and uncles or aunts; there is always someone who would like to visit. Especially, for special occasions like a wedding.
Shahid Ali, says:
“I needed to call my grandparents over for my son’s wedding. I thought it would be simple enough to do. But you need to plan it because it can take some time getting information together for your case to be accepted now.”
Meena Kumari says:
“I never realised how much paperwork is involved in bringing a relative over for a visit. It’s also very much dependant on your finances if it is accepted or not.”
So, if a British Asian citizen wants to bring their relatives, grandparents, family over for a stay or visit, what is the correct process? We asked Harjap.
“The first port of call would be to make a sponsorship (similar to an invitation letter) to invite their relatives over to the UK. On the application, it must state the reasons for the visit, duration and the sponsor needs to disclose their financial position and attach their wage slips and bank statements.”
So, does this guarantee them being allowed to come to the UK? Harjap says:
“Not necessarily, the UK authorities generally will look at the financial situation of the person who is coming over before making a decision”
And how long does a typical visa application take? Harjap replies:
“A typical visitor visa application can take up to 4 weeks to process. Frequent travellers can get a same day service if they need to travel urgently.”
Life as an Illegal in the UK
Living illegally in the UK is not the experience many dream of when they leave their homeland trying to get here illegally.
Once here, most living here are constantly hiding, working for cash-in-hand below the minimum wage, exploited by landlords, given literally very little rights and no formal documents.
Even helping illegal immigrants is not an easy option for UK residents.
So, what message does Harjap have for those trying to come to the country illegally? He replies:
“The message is, don’t be fooled into travelling anywhere without a visa. It’s not easy to live anywhere illegally.”
Immigration regulations are a maze. Even a lot of British Asians living in the UK to do not fully understand them. So, for immigrants, it must be even harder. Harjap agrees and says:
“Immigration Law is a minefield and is constantly changing. It can literally be changed overnight if need be and according to the political climate, it is changing constantly. The government website is not easy to navigate by any means and the language used is often legal jargon and confusing.”
“Hence, why TV programmes such as mine, Legal Solutions (Sky Channel 793 every Friday at 7pm) are proving to be hugely popular where the law is explained to people in non-legal language and questions can be asked directly by the public to a qualified immigration solicitor. The ‘Immigration Guru’ slot on the BBC Asian Network also proves to be immensely popular.”
Immigration issues are high on the agenda for most countries including the UK and the laws will always be reviewed to make it harder for illegal immigration.
Using methods like babies for visas and marriage tourism may seem a viable option. However, it does not mean you will likely hit problems somewhere along the line.
So, thinking twice about entering the UK illegally is a no brainer, if you really want to live a life without fear, struggle and debt.