It was always problematic, to be honest. Whites could get into the country under the scheme but non-whites could not. I remember seeing the statistics for the year 2000, when 10 Bangladeshis were admitted under the scheme as opposed to 17,000 Australians. I doubt much changed since then.
It was difficult not to regard the scheme as racist, so in some respects I have mixed feelings about its passing. Most immigration lawyers and activists would agree that it would have been better to retain the scheme and apply the criteria fairly, though.
The retired person of independent means route also died today. I’ve never actually dealt with an applicant under this category before and have little to say about it, but I imagine it was very useful for well-to-do families who would not represent any risk of a burden on public funds but who were not about to meet the stringent terms of immigration rule 317 for other dependent relatives.
The Lords debated the new immigration rules on Tuesday but the only concession I can see is regarding maintenance of applicants and their dependents under the Points Based Scheme, whereby their sponsor can give a maintenance guarantee to replace the requirements to hold funds of £533 in the bank account for three months prior to entry. It looks like more thought is going into sponsored researchers. The list of permissible activities for business visitors seems to be on the UKBA website in the relevant section.
I still find it difficult to believe that the Home Office is pressing ahead with the rise in spouse visa age to 21. Anyone caught by this provision who is not involved in a forced marriage would have a very strong chance of success on appeal, I would say – but will have to wait months for the appeal and pay high lawyers fees with no guarantee of success.
The Commons are due to debate the changes because of Dave’s EDM, but with Home Office lead-in times being as short as they are, there will be no opportunity until after the changes have come into effect.