Acquiring a tourist visa for a holiday to the United Kingdom just became a lot more expensive for citizens of India, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
As was reported last month by the Associated Press, the United Kingdom’s Home Office will soon implement a pilot scheme designed to deter illegal immigration and visa overstaying that requires adult visitors from “high-risk nations” to put up a £3,000 refundable bond (about $4,500) in order to have their visa processed.
The six nations chosen by Great Britain to participate in the scheme collectively account for more than 500,000 visa applications each year, a large percentage of which are granted. It is unclear how many of these visitors to the United Kingdom overstay their visas, as the UK does not have a system of exit controls.
The move is part of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative Party’s pledge to cut net immigration to the UK by more than 50% from its current rate of 252,000 per year.
Though limited to six nations at the moment, Home Secretary Theresa May has said: “The pilot will apply to visitor visas, but if the scheme is successful we’d like to be able to apply it on an intelligence-led basis on any visa route and any country.”
Predictably, the decision to single out the six nations has caused outrage amongst both their governments and citizens, with calls of discrimination and warnings of dire consequences to travel and trade.
The government of Nigeria has formally requested that the United Kingdom renounce the policy, with the nation’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, calling the scheme “discriminatory.”
Condemnation has also been particularly pronounced in India, onetime crown jewel of the British Empire, where David Cameron’s visit last month was met with public protests.
Nevertheless, the scheme is expected to roll out in November.