Mashudu Netsianda Senior Reporter
THE British parliament is today expected to debate new immigration regulations requiring non-European citizens, including Zimbabweans, to earn more than £35,000 for them to continue living in the country. The debate comes after a petition in support of the scrapping of the regulations attracted the required 100,000 signatures for the matter to spill into parliament.
The regulations, which are supposed to come into effect in April, will also affect Zimbabweans whose earnings are less than £35,000 per year and have lived in the United Kingdom (UK) for more than five years.
Those who fail to comply will be denied settlement and face deportation. The petition, which is on the website of the UK parliament, had by yesterday attracted 107,712 signatures. For a petition to be debated in that parliament, at least 100,000 signatures are required.
Joshua Harbord, who set up the petition to fight the policy, recently told The Independent that he decided to take action because he knew a number of people who were set to be affected by the changes but had no one speaking up on their behalf.
The £35,000 salary threshold only applies to workers in graduate occupations. Exemptions exist for scientists and researchers in PhD level jobs or in a recognised field with shortages such as the medical field. Those who fail to demonstrate earnings of more than £35,000 will be denied settlement in the UK and will face deportation according to the new Home Office policy.
Immigrants who have already acquired permanent residence status will not be affected by the new regulation.
The UK Office of National Statistics reported that the Zimbabwean population in Britain increased from 47,158 in 2001 to an estimated 200,000 in 2010, clearly showing the rising numbers in migration. Opposition parties and some sections of the British society condemned the policy, arguing that the new earnings were “discriminatory” and likely to starve Britain of vital talent in the teaching, charity and entrepreneural sectors.