Immigration move favours the rich

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(First Edition)

BRITAIN will today close its doors to more immigrants - unless they are millionaires, writes Heather Mills.

New immigration rules mean many will now be barred from joining families, and overseas students and patients will need to overcome bigger hurdles.

But the rich will be allowed to bypass the rules and buy entry to the UK by investing at least pounds 750,000 in government stocks and shares. Those over 60 with an annual income above pounds 25,000 will also be given limited settlement rights.

The Home Office has denied accusations that the changes are aimed at allowing wealthy Hong Kong businessmen a fast entry into the UK in the run-up to the 1997 hand-over to China, maintaining that allowing the wealthy to bypass immigration rules would be of direct benefit to the economy.

But yesterday, lawyers joined immigration pressure groups to condemn the changes as breaches of human rights and fairness.

Ruth Bundey, of the Law Society, said: 'It is ironic that in 1994, the UN Year of the Family, this government make family reunion even more difficult, leaving families divided.'