Letter: Easier for the US

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Indy Lifestyle Online
PHILIP ROE's statements regarding immigration into the UK from the United States (Letters, 21 March) bear no resemblance to the reality. Mr Roe claims that it is "nearly impossible for Americans to live here". In fact US citizens account for over 30 per cent of all long-term work permits issued by the UK worldwide. This is easily the largest number for any country - 23,000 US work permit holders and their dependants entered the UK in 1997.

Mr Roe also perpetuates the myth that Commonwealth citizens have some kind of special UK immigration privileges. Successive immigration bills over the past 50 years have removed all such rights and most Commonwealth citizens (unlike those from the US) now have to go through a rigorous examination to obtain an entry visa before embarking on a journey to the UK. Tens of thousands of Commonwealth citizens are denied entry every year for brief visits to see their families, even for family weddings and funerals. The final insult was the removal in 1993 of any right of appeal against such refusals, which may be only partially restored by the present government.

One final statistic: in 1997 40 per cent of all Bangladeshi applicants (Commonwealth citizens) were refused permission to settle in the UK. The corresponding figure for those from the US was 0.4 per cent. The days of unlimited immigration to the UK from outside Europe are long since gone but it is clear that citizens of the US still have it easier than almost anyone else.