- United States
The United Kingdom Home Office has warned its Cabinet members of possible increase in local crime levels if immigration rules are relaxed for Chinese tourists. UK Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the plans of a senior Cabinet member Jeremy Hunt of making the country’s current immigration rules somewhat flexible to encourage Chinese tourists and immigrants to visit the country. Hunt had proposed on Tuesday August 14th, 2012 these measures amid concerns of a decline in tourist income for the country due to rigid immigration rules.
Mrs. May’s private secretary sent a letter earlier this week to the private secretary of UK Prime Minister David Cameron cautioning Downing Street that relaxed measures for Chinese tourists would open the UK borders to Chinese criminals and asylum seekers, which might pose a serious threat to Britain’s national security.
These warnings were contained in the same letter. Mrs. May also went on to reject the proposal given by Hunt to provide the Chinese who arrive in tour groups with European and British visa simultaneously. She said that the flexible European immigration rules might enable these immigrants to abuse the British immigration rules, which are particularly designed to protect the public from any possible threats.
The letter stated, “The proposal … is not acceptable to the Home Secretary for national security reasons. At Cabinet t issue of asylum claim was discussed. We also faced significant challenges with Foreign National Offenders and organized crime including drugs, money laundering, fraud, criminal finances, intellectual property, and immigration and cyber crime.”
The senior cabinet minister had urged the UK government and immigration authorities to consider relaxing the unnecessarily strict immigration rules for Chinese immigrants, who spend three times extra than any other country’s nationals on a trip to UK. According to Hunt, the UK is losing financial prospects as compared to other European countries who are welcoming productive visits from foreign immigrants.
According to statistics issued by a private organization, the Chinese visitors experience trips to other European countries to be less expensive than that to UK, where they have to pay hefty amounts for immigration and other requirements alone.
VisitBritain, the national tourist body in UK, stated that one of the main reasons that majority of Chinese visitors choose other Schengen countries over Great Britain are the country’s difficult immigration procedures. The organization also urged the government to introduce immigration/visa forms in Mandarin for potential Chinese immigrants instead of English.
Hunt said that these restrictions were also adversely affecting the foreign investment prospects that the country could have from Chinese investors and entrepreneurs.
Recently the British ambassador in Beijing, Sebastian Wood, also urged the need for a similar change to attract Chinese based businesses to invest in UK. Woods said that locals in China feel that the UK government has intentionally created a fortress of complex and expensive immigration laws in order to avoid them from coming.
But the Home Office insists that the expenses and fee requirements from the Chinese visitors are necessary due to current market prices of accommodations and other basic necessities the visitors will require. It said that the Secretary had already done enough by introducing more extra staff at the UK Border Agency in order to make the immigration process more efficient and prompt, also introducing online help facilities ‘with translation’.
Tags: Chinese immigrants, Schengen countries, UK Border Agency, UK immigration, UK immigration rules