Anger at decision on Gurkha veterans

The Government today loosened, but didn't eliminate, immigration restrictions for Nepalese veterans of the country's armed forces.

The government said the change would allow about 4,000 more Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 to live permanently in Britain.

But advocates for the Nepalese soldiers said the new policy was still too limited and imposed too many conditions on those seeking the right to settle in the UK.

The Nepalese soldiers, mercenaries recruited from the Himalayan hills, have fought for Britain for about 200 years, including recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Immigration rules introduced five years ago allowed Gurkhas with at least four years' service to settle in the UK, but the rules didn't apply to Gurkhas discharged from the British Army before 1997. The government argued some of those veterans had weak links to Britain and should have their cases reviewed individually, rather than having an automatic right to settle.

The rules announced Friday say the Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 — more than 30,000, according to government estimates — can settle automatically if certain conditions are met.

Those could include having served 20 years, receiving a military award or having incurred an injury while serving. Special consideration will also be given for those who have family living in Britain.

"They have set criteria that are unattainable," Gurkha lawyer David Enright said, noting that some Gurkha veterans weren't even allowed to serve as long as 20 years. "It's a sham and an absolute disgrace."

Actress Joanna Lumley, known for her role as Patsy on the television show "Absolutely Fabulous," and a longtime supporter of the Gurkhas, said, "The Gurkhas cannot meet these new criteria. It makes me ashamed of our government."

The government's actions Friday followed a court decision last year ordering a rewrite of the immigration for the older Gurkha vets. Enright said Gurkha advocates would now take their case back to the court.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said it was unrealistic for Gurkha advocates to think that the government could allow all those who served before 1997 to settle in Britain.

"It has never been the case that all Gurkhas pre-1997 were going to be allowed to settle in this country. Were we to do that, with their dependents, you could be looking at up to 100,000 people," Woolas said.

Enright said such figures are unrealistic, because not all of the vets who retired before 1997 actually want to come to Britain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'